Rescue dogs from Mississippi arrive safely in Golden Valley

Several dogs survived a first transport attempt in which 11 died

Sloane Martin
July 22, 2018 - 10:59 am

A couple dozen rescue dogs from Mississippi safely arrived in Minnesota Sunday morning, including several who survived a harrowing incident.

On the first transport attempt on July 6, the van from Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg, Miss., broke down four hours into the trip. Volunteers soon discovered that 11 of the 50 dogs inside had died. Necropsy results are not yet known, but officials with the shelter believe a mechanical malfunction led to carbon monoxide and heat was not a factor. The shelter and surrounding community were devastated by the loss of life. 

"Since the accident we've gotten letters, we've gotten grief boxes. We've just gotten an overwhelming amount of support from our partners and people that believe in the life-saving work that we do," Southern Pines kennel supervisor Remanda Taylor said. She added that the van was thoroughly inspected before hitting the road again.

"We all kind of woke up the next morning and we're checking our email as the transport coordinator and I are like, 'I wonder where all the dogs are. It's weird they haven't arrived.' Once we found out, our staff, everybody, it was just heavy. We couldn't imagine something so tragic happening for something we do weekly," Animal Humane Society of Minnesota animal transport lead driver Danielle Cunnane said.

Saturday, Taylor and another employee loaded up the 20 or so dogs to bring them to the Animal Humane Society of Minnesota in Golden Valley driving 14 hours to ensure they have a brand new life. Southern Pines takes in about 7,000 animals a year from across the state of Mississippi. Since they're a small shelter, they need help.

"With our transport program," Taylor said, "we transport them to many states. We work with the Animal Humane Society and Minnesota happens to be one of the many partners that we work with."

Cunnane says the remaining dogs needed somewhere to go since their spaces had been filled at Southern Pines. Some, like puppies, went to a sanctuary, and several others were placed elsewhere thanks to Southern Pines' transport partners, but there were still 10 of the 29 that needed to find a new home.

"We noticed that the South, they've just got homeless animals coming out of like gutters and trees and all over the place," Cunnane said. "Minnesota doesn't really have that huge stray population that the South has. I love our Minnesotans because we all love adopting. We all spay and neuter and it's just not as prevalent in the southern communities. So we found a way to not only help our fellow communities in our country and homeless dogs, we're bringing them here. We're gonna get them adopted by our awesome Minnesotans."

A wide variety of breeds and sizes that stepped off the van into the cool Minnesota summer morning. There's Wags the chubby Chihuahua, Bear the red-coated large mix, Chance, the shy yellow lab, plus a Dalmatian, Staffie-mixes and more.

The dogs have 24 hours to get acclimated to a new environment. Once they got off the van they were evaluated for ticks and fleas and got a quick check-up, but any animals needing further medical attention will get it, including spay/neuter surgeries. It depends on the dog, but they're slated to be up for adoption July 26.

"Some of then are already spayed and neutered. They just need some shots and they're ready to go," Cunnane said. "Some of them might need heartworm treatment or surgery."

Blue bandanas and a note on their kennel will show which dogs survived the first transport.