Matt’s Blog: The Lifesaving Results of Animal Relocation

March 28, 2022


By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

In many parts of the country, animal shelters are so full that adoption efforts alone cannot relieve the pressure fast enough. When shelters are crowded, there’s little room for new animals, and resources like food, crates, veterinary supplies and litter are stretched thin.

This challenge is why new and more collaborative solutions are needed, and few approaches are more effective than animal relocation: moving dogs, cats and horses from areas of oversupply and crowded shelters to areas with more potential adopters and available shelter space.

Leveraging our resources and expertise, the ASPCA transports more homeless cats and dogs than any other organization, utilizing ground and air routes that move tens of thousands of animals each year, typically from the south to the north, often with overnight stays at waystations.

Last weekend, our dedicated relocation work hit an incredible all-time milestone: 200,000 animals relocated since those efforts began in 2014. That number represents more than 8,200 trips (6,900+ by transport vehicle and 1,200+ by plane) to move more than 150,000 dogs and nearly 50,000 cats in collaboration with source shelters in 18 states, destination shelters in 28 states, and five waystations.

Even during the pandemic, shelters and transport partners worked together to relocate animals. In 2021, the ASPCA Relocation Team moved more than 34,500 animals across the country to help them find new homes.

The work involved in animal relocation doesn’t start and end with pick-up and drop-off. In addition to safely moving the animals, the ASPCA also provides grants, support and training to source and destination shelters, helping them strengthen their programs and operations to best serve their communities. These transports also enable animals to be quickly moved out of harm’s way during natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.

Our 200,000th relocated animal is more than a number. Noah, a one-year-old male cattle dog/Basenji-mix, was found in Wilmer, Alabama, and ultimately transferred to Mobile SPCA. Last weekend, Noah was loaded with other animals onto an ASPCA Animal Relocation Program transport vehicle, which drove the animals to Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama for a flight to Worcester Regional Airport in Massachusetts. From there, another ASPCA transport vehicle brought Noah to Second Chance Animal Services’ “Almost Home” transport center in North Brookfield, where he will soon be made available for adoption.

More and more individuals and organizations are realizing the power and potential of animal relocation, and we were proud to contribute to a recent in-depth TIME Magazine feature article on animal relocation, which shared the stories of animals given lifesaving second chances thanks to inspiring displays of collaboration, determination and compassion. As Noah’s story illustrates, these transports are powered not just by fuel, but by the hope and hard work of many contributors and partners, which can include you.

Please ask your local shelter how you can assist with transporting animals, adopting or fostering new pets yourself, or financially supporting their relocation efforts that connect the dots from overcrowding to opportunity.