Paula Shaw will spend most of this week driving to and from Virginia — in a van full of puppies.
Shaw, who works for the Companion Animal Alliance, said she and her husband, Brian, will transport 26 puppies from the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control and Rescue Center to Norfolk, Va., so they can find a permanent home.
“It feels good to do something like this when you’re so passionate about it and to be able to physically, tangibly see that you’ve made a difference,” Shaw said Sunday as she worked at the center preparing for the trip.
The drive is part of CAA’s “Puppy Transport,” a program that takes puppies from the East Baton Rouge shelter to other areas of the country.
CAA performed a similar puppy transport in May when 27 dogs were taken to a no-kill facility in Norfolk, said Kimberly Sherlaw, the organization’s executive director.
Sherlaw said CAA is taking the dogs to Virginia because puppy adoption rates in the state are high.
“We’ll look to other areas going forward, and keep this relationship that we’ve established with the Norfolk area,” she said.
Sherlaw said the transport program also will help relieve overcrowding in the parish shelter, which CAA began operating in August.
“It’s helpful right now for us to be able to send puppies to other areas where they don’t have as many puppies so that we’re saving more lives than we could locally,” Sherlaw said.
Shaw, the Puppy Transport coordinator, said the dogs will be taken to a foster coordinator, who will distribute the dogs to foster homes and rescue centers around Virginia.
CAA chose the 26 animals being taken to Virginia based on several factors, including breed, size and how long they’ve been at the shelter, Sherlaw said.
The puppies making their way north range in age from 8 weeks to 6 months and include shepherds, Labrador and terriers, Shaw said.
Shaw and Sherlaw spent Sunday preparing the van for its Monday departure and finalizing paperwork on the puppies, including special veterinary checks so the dogs can travel across state lines.
Shaw said she and her husband will arrive at the shelter at 4 a.m. Monday before hitting the road.
“I’m a morning person, but that’s a little early,” Shaw joked.
Both Sherlaw and Shaw encouraged people to adopt shelter animals so they don’t have to be transported to another state.
“You’d be amazed at the numbers of puppies, the breeds we have,” Sherlaw said.