Each weekend, Mastrogiacomo said, between 10 and 20 animals embark on Kindred Hearts' cross-country bucket-brigades, or "runs" in the lingo of volunteer dog drivers. Cats, dogs and Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs have all benefited from a Kindred Hearts run. A chain of drivers might deliver rescue animals, like Athena, to new homes, or reunite lost animals with owners who live hundreds of miles of away. Dogs, particularly pit bulls, are often driven toward the Northeast, escaping euthanasia at kill shelters in midwestern and southern states.
"Miami-Dade shelters are really bad," Mastrogiacomo said. "Pit bulls get killed left and right down there."
Social media, not just tax-exempt gasoline, fuels these drives. Volunteers find their way to Kindred Hearts via Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest (Craigslist, deemed too risky, was abandoned). The many kindred spirits of Kindred Hearts include: Dogs on Deployment, offering board for deployed soldiers' pooches; Pilots N Paws, a group of volunteer pilots who shuttle rescue animals; and schools of transport groups, a few dedicated to a specific breed, with names like Pitstop Pit Bull Rescue or Save a Lab. "We're always looking," Mastrogiacomo said. "We need an infinite number of volunteers."