Volunteers Plan 1,000-Mile Road Trip To Reunite Pit Bull With Owner
The worst part wasn't when Brian, a trucker from Illinois, broke his hand while unloading boxes in Houston, Texas. And it wasn't when, unable to drive, he had to take a Greyhound bus 1,000 miles home to Joliet, Ill. The worst part was when he had to leave his pit bull and driving companion, Smitty, behind in Texas.
Leaving a pit bull behind in Houston is a death sentence. City shelters, in general, put down pit bulls within 72 hours. Hoping to save his dog, Brian turned to the Houston Humane Society. (Though it makes an exception for service dogs, Greyhound does not allow pets onboard its buses.) Amanda Vysocky, an independent pit bull rescuer the Houston Humane Society contacted, told local media outlet KPRC that Brian was devastated to depart without his beloved pup. Smitty, it turned out, had been adopted as a rescue after Brian's family suffered a tragedy.
"All he said was, please don't allow your city to kill my dog," she said. "And as we were explaining this, I was like, well do you genuinely want your dog? And he said more than anything in the world. He's my son. Well I said let me go get your dog."
In an impassioned search for a driver, Vysocky got in touch with Morgan Edwards from the Kindred Hearts Transport Connection. Kindred Hearts, a nonprofit organization, is set up a bit like a bucket brigade - a volunteer drives a stranded pup for an hour-and-a-half, then hands the homeward-bound dog off to the next person. "It's like a relay race," Edwards told The Dodo. The plan for Smitty was, at first, to tap into the national network of volunteers in Kindred Hearts, making a chain of cars that would take the dog home.
But in a strange twist of fate, another truck driver, who happens to be a part of the pit bull rescue group Unchained Love, was able to pick Smitty up in Denton, Texas.
As of Tuesday, Smitty is back in a cab and Illinois-bound. "He's already on his way home," Edwards said, and should arrive by Thursday.
Kindred Hearts still has plenty of work to do. Edwards told The Dodo that the organization will be bringing Cooper, a Florida dog found Monday in New Hampshire, back south. (Edwards also had some strong words for pit bull kill policies in Houston, contrasting the idea of "vicious" dogs with the image of Smitty, who sleeps with a three-foot pink bunny. "This is America," she said. "We've got to be more enlightened.")
Smitty isn't the first dog to embark on a trip that takes hundreds of miles to get home, though some pups have traveled impressive distances on their own. In June, a dog hiked 500 miles to Brazil's World Cup. And the world record holder is a dog who, in 1979, allegedly walked 2,000 miles across Australia to end up at his old home. (Not to be outdone, an Australian cat wandered 2,400 miles over three years, a voyage that included a mysterious trip over the sea from Tasmania to mainland Australia. The wayward feline finally made it home after being picked up by a nurse.)
In just two years, Kindred Hearts has grown to 21,000 volunteers, stretching across every state as well as Canada. "You would be impressed with how many people who can't foster or adopt say, 'Oh, I can drive,'" Edwards said. "'I can help the dog get somewhere safe.'"
CORRECTION: A previous version of the article indicated Amanda Vysocky is affiliated with the Houston Humane Society. She is an independent animal rescuer whom the Humane Society contacts regarding pit bulls in the area.