by Scottie McGowan, Director of Golden Rescue
In RAGofAZ's twenty years of rescuing and rehoming goldens, over 3,500 dogs were moved by an extraordinary team of transporters to expectant furever families in the cities, towns, and burbs of Arizona. The dogs came from within the boundaries of the state and a few from El Paso. Then in 2017, RAGofAZ transformed into an international rescue in response to a nationwide campaign to save Goldens from certain death in South Korea, China, Turkey, and Mexico. The procedure of transporting dogs as we knew it changed radically.
The Mexican dogs coming into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport did not present a problem. The challenge was how to retrieve Goldens in California and get them quickly and safely to Arizona. We developed a plan based on advice from other international rescues, but we had no idea of what to expect until a team bravely made the first expedition. The first few transports were learning experiences based on trial and error, but our steadfast transporters quickly found solutions to each divergence from our plans.
The next challenge was to find teams of committed Golden lovers to go the long distance to bring our fur kids home. These transports would require one or two overnight stays. Several awesome volunteers were up to the task and helped blaze the trail for our Goldens' journey to Arizona, somewhat like the early pioneers only eastbound and in SUVs vs. wagons.
And then much to our amazement, a RAGofAZ volunteer with a pilot's license and her friend with a private jet flew us to LAX several times significantly decreasing volunteer travel time and money and lessening the stress of the trip for the dogs. This mode of transportation definitely added a new dimension to moving dogs.
Now that there was an established method of operations, more volunteers were needed to fetch our dogs. Hooray for social media! Many responded to our plea for long-distance transporters gratefully increasing our resource pool.
Recently, we began receiving Goldens through McCarron International Airport in Las Vegas. It's happily much more accessible, but LAX will continue to be the main port of entry for the dogs traveling to the U.S. No matter the distance or cost, meeting these incredible fur kids and spending a couple of days with them is a blessing.
There is so much to do and see in California and Las Vegas that we recommend our transporters take advantage of the trip to see the sights. So far, the beach, Downtown Disney, premier outlets in Palm Springs, and Las Vegas casinos were visited by our volunteers in conjunction with their transport.
To date, we have transported twenty-five dogs from LAX and two from McCarron. We couldn't do it without the help of all of the incredible long-distance transport volunteers. Many tail wags from the grateful now American dogs to their chauffeurs for sharing their journey to safety and a second chance for a new Golden Life.