rhonda and jewelspacerspacerLeg 11 meeting spot

Passion and Teamwork Create Miracles

Hello, I am Rhonda. A pretty typical person, if you call being a neurotic, anal, pretzel of emotion typical. I live in Anderson, SC, am married with a son and step-daughter (both grown), three cats and five dogs. My husband and I own an adult day healthcare facility, which I work at during the day. The rest of my life is spent behind the computer trying to find placement for shelter animals before their euthanasia date, and posting transport sheets to get them to safety. Oh, and there’s also the emaciated ones on the side of the road, or chained in backyards, or worse. It’s an insanity that I, along with many many other rescuers choose, because we simply cannot sit idly by knowing what’s happening to animals out there and not do something about it. It is a situation that renews itself every time another dog or cat is dumped in a shelter or on the side of the road.

I have been involved in animal rescue in some capacity for many years, from volunteering at local events and donating money, to driving for other coordinators, and now in the last several years doing my own pulls and transports. I became very heavily involved, or as we rescuers say, “entrenched” in rescue after adopting my soulmate Charlie, who I had for ten wonderful years, and lost on November 19th, 2005. Charlie was my best friend and comforter, and could make my heart leap like no human ever could. An awkward, chunky cocker mix, who didn’t need to be a purebreed to be worth more to me than money could ever buy. I think it was grief that slung me into this level of animal rescue. After I had to say "goodbye for now" to Charlie, I was trying to find a way to somehow fight the pain of losing him, so I developed a relationship with the local shelter director where I adopted Charlie ten years prior, and was able to start pulling animals from there and finding rescues to take them. I somehow felt that by doing this, I was saving Charlie all over again and making him proud. We never really earn the level of adoration that our furkids give to us. From there, it grew to pulling from other shelters, as well as assisting other rescue groups with transporting their furkids.

There are many transport coordinators and rescuers out there who are doing such wonderful work. It really is a mission that many of us are on, and we are all killing ourselves doing it. I have had several people ask me lately about my “organization” and the question really stumps me. I guess they ask because I have a name for my transports, the Freedom Train, which was really just a catchy name (however unoriginal) with a very real reflection of just what was happening on each transport. Freedom from pain, neglect, loneliness, imprisonment, hunger, and many times abuse, is what these transports represent. I can’t really consider my rescues and transports an organization, because to say that would mean that the people involved are officially involved with me and me only. That is not the case, because the people who I am blessed to know and work with to get these precious ones to safety, have a desire that goes far beyond me. It is just my task to get a group of them together on each occasion, to assist me in a goal that we all share...saving some furkids! There are so many awesome rescues out there, but many do not have the means to get the animals to them, and that is why rescue transports are so vital.

Most of the time, the animals are put on the transport directly from the shelter. Exceptions to this are when the animals are being quaranteened away from the shelter, such as puppies who need to be quaranteened for at least two weeks to monitor for any Parvo symptoms, or other contagious illnesses. We have to take every precaution to keep everyone healthy. Also, some animals may be in a foster home and in that case, the foster parent will meet the transport en route. Still even other times, the animals may be at the veterinarian’s clinic, such as when they have been pulled off the road as strays or off of chains, and need some TLC before being transported. This is very common, due to lack of spay/neutering.

For the furkids going to rescues from the transport, they are taken in and cared for and loved on like never before, until the rescue finds the perfect screened and approved forever home. To many of these animals, it is the first time that they have ever known what its like to be cared for in any way. It is always wonderful to see how they thrive, how the look in their eyes change once they are shown the love that they so deserve. The tail that hung between his or her legs suddenly begins to wag because it has a reason to. It makes all the heartache worth it. I always send out all updates that I receive on the furkids to all of the transporters who helped get them there. This is what we live for in animal rescue. It is the only way we can continue and overcome the constant heartbreak.

If you would like to be a part of this wonderful rescue mission and experience knowing that you have truly saved lives, please contact me by clicking here. I would love to talk with you about joining our efforts on the Freedom Train.



Tina Patael will be joining me on the Freedom Train as a Transport Coordinator.

Tina is a wonderful human being, who has been rescuing furkids for over 20 years. She is a person of integrity, excellent judgement, and an immense love for the animals we all work so hard to help. I am extremely happy to have Tina join me on the Freedom Train to help get more animals moved to safety, and even happier to call her friend!