The second half of December is typically a slow news time for the automobile and transport industries, so car journalists usually have a little extra time on our hands. This year, we’re using it for a good cause.
Veteran automotive journalist Nik Miles is devoted to his pet dogs, and never misses a chance to do a good turn for shelter animals. Back in 2018, he partnered with Nissan to show how a Titan pickup truck could be modified to serve as a rescue vehicle to save and transport animals after natural disasters. The truck was displayed at the SEMA show that year. That led to the founding of AnimalRescueRigs.com to encourage animal rescue.
“Animal Rescue Rigs is a 501(c)(3) charity designed to work closely with an automotive manufacturer to provide an emergency vehicle for animal rescue during natural disasters in the U.S.,” Miles said. “In addition to its primary mission, ARR strives to create a sense of community by encouraging outreach and education at local adoption events, auto shows and automotive dealer outreach.”
Many times, household pets get the worst of a disaster. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana SPCA estimated that 15,500 animals required rescue and that 80% to 85% of these animals were never reunited with their owners.
A couple weeks ago, Miles learned that there was a rescued Beagle who needed a new home. The problem was the dog was in Omaha, Nebraska, and Miles lives in Portland, Oregon. For various reasons, flying the dog to Oregon was not going to be possible. At the same time, Miles noted the organization, Basset & Beagle Rescue of the Heartland, was desperately in need of a vehicle to support their operations. Miles still had the rescue truck “PAWS One,” that he developed four years ago.
The way forward was clear. The only question was, how could Miles deliver the truck to Nebraska and return to Oregon with the dog?
Miles turned to the community of automotive journalists, including the staff here at TheDetroitBureau.com, to see if anyone was willing to help drive the truck to Omaha and return with the dog, whom Miles plans to name Frodo. (Yes, he already has a Beagle named Sam.)
The response was overwhelming. Several journalists made plans to drive sections of the route, handing off the truck at airports along the way, and visiting with local TV stations and other media outlets to document the journey and highlight the needs of shelter animals.
As it happened, that was just the beginning. The rescue agency is over its capacity with dogs this year, and Miles agreed to bring several more Beagles back to Oregon to find new homes. Jeep stepped up to lend a new Grand Wagoneer SUV to the project so the dogs can be transported safely to the Pacific Northwest.
Making a difference
The drive to Omaha and back to Portland begins this Friday, Dec 16. TheDetroitBureau’s Jeff Zurschmeide and Harvey Briggs from RidesAndDrives.com will leave Portland and take two days to drive PAWS One to Salt Lake City, Utah.
There they will hand off the truck to Javier Mota of AutoProyecto.com and Jordan Golson of PRNDL for the next leg. Also scheduled to participate are Jill Ciminillo and Tim Esterdahl of Pickup Truck and SUV Talk as well as Tanya Gadzik of Mediapost.
In the hands of these and other journalists, the route will lead through Denver, Topeka, and all the way to Omaha, where Miles will present the truck to the rescue organization. The plan is to be back in Portland with the dogs by Christmas Day.
“People are donating money for gas, food, and hotels so that we can get the vehicle to Omaha,” Miles reported. “This does not include the time that journalist drivers donate and the air miles they use to get to and from their driving points at the event. When we arrive in Omaha, we will hand over PAWS One and pick up a loaner Grand Wagoneer from Jeep. Then we’ll drive back across America to the west coast with Frodo and other rescue Beagles.”
“The donation of the PAWS One animal rescue rig will give us not only an official Basset and Beagle vehicle that can be used to secure and transport dogs,” the rescue stated in a press release, “it will also make us capable of responding in case of an emergency, as we have been requested to do in the past when tornados have struck the area.”
Without an appropriate transport, the rescue did not have the option to respond in an emergency. Instead, the rescue agency had to arrange for people to bring lost and newly homeless dogs to them. The PAWS One vehicle will make it possible for the rescue to respond to regional disaster scenes.
You can help
If you would like to help out with Operation Frodo, tax-deductible donations can be routed through Animal Rescue Rigs.
Alternatively, if you’re considering a new pet this year, adopting a shelter animal is always a good idea. At this time, all the Beagles headed to Oregon as part of Operation Frodo have adoptive homes waiting for them, but many more shelter animals across the country remain in need of permanent homes.