One man brings more than 1000 dogs to animal shelter

One man brings more than 1000 dogs to animal shelter

That’s right.

One man alone made it into the news this week as being responsible for bringing more than 1000 dogs to an animal shelter.

I can hear all of my fellow animal sheltering folks’ heads exploding. 

Now before you start your Google News search to hunt him down and eat him for breakfast, the rest of the story is: 

Michael Dougherty will be playing Santa for our little story here and for over a year he has run the Puppy Pipeline, rescuing dogs that would be euthanized in rural Georgia and bringing them to the Twin Cities to be adopted.

“It’s one of those things, it’s the first thing I have ever done in my life that I feel like I’m good at. I don’t make any money, but, money isn’t everything,” Dougherty said of his work.

He actually spends his own money to drive up here. He also bought the van himself. So far, he has rescued 1,005 adorable little puppies. KARE11

The theory of animal transport is one of supply and demand. While some shelters see an endless stream of unwanted puppies, other shelters are lucky if they see a litter a year. 

That’s right (again).

There are wide swaths of the country where very few unwanted puppies are born.

Where do people go in your community when they want to get a puppy? I’m willing to bet when they can’t figure out how to find a responsible and caring breeder, and they see no puppies in the shelter (or their applications go unanswered) … they go to the pet store and purchase a puppy mill product. Supply is not connecting with demand.

What would you call this connecting supply with demand?

I would call it a humane strategy.  If you tap into the power of the community, you might even find they can get a ride.  

Or even a flight.

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9 Responses to “One man brings more than 1000 dogs to animal shelter”

  1. curtis says:

    Sue, I love your blog!

    While the Twin Cities shelter is full of compassion, I don’t feel transferring young, small and fluffies from afar is a solution.

    Is such transferring placing artificial barriers to no kill?

    I reflected on this topic on my blog at:


  2. sue_cosby says:

    Transferring saves lives at the sending shelter reducing deaths across across the country. Transferring puppies directly takes away business from puppy mills and pet stores. When they have less of a market, there is less profit and less incentive to boost production.

    Transferring results in tremendous benefits for the receiving shelter (when capitalized on appropriately) in the way of improved community relations, increased donor base, better likelihood of long term support. All of the positives result in more exposure and adoptions in general including for those animals at the shelter from the home area. Imagine when the proud parent is showing off the new puppy and they ask - where did you get that adorable puppy or kitten - and that proud parent mentions the shelter. You can’t pay for that kind of positive public image.

    All of this is based on the fact that a receiving shelter is doing sheltering right. While I don’t know the specifics of the receiving shelters in either of these cases - and that’s not really the point, it isn’t a how-to post - the concept is not a barrier but 100% a part of the solution. For the how-to part, I recommend shelters take a look at Humane Strategies. They have taken the transport part of it to a peak level.

    When I was at a high volume animal control shelter, only 30 minutes away from where I am now if I travel in a straight line, transferring animals OUT saved thousands of lives. Now that I am at a shelter that receives transferred animals and does not perform animal control I’m on the other end of the equation. I know of at least one shelter in our immediate area that has reduced their shelter deaths this year to ZERO (yes ZERO) with major help from their transfer (out) program.

    The positives far outweigh any perceived negatives. And negatives are really minimal or even non-existent when you examine the situation as a whole.

    If you could see the crowds that flood our shelter regularly, you would be impressed. Those crowds have allowed us not only to save the young pups but the old seniors, the scaredy cats and cats with FIV. I picked up a large adult cat from our nearby animal control shelter who had been there for five months. He was at our shelter for less than two weeks before he found a home. Same cat. Same community.

    On the other hand if your neighborhood is crawling with unwanted pups. Probably don’t want to be transferring them in from far away. We restrict our cat and kitten intakes to specific regions very close to us because there are so many cats and kittens in our own back yard we prioritize our target communities.

    I knew we would get at least one comment questioning this practice, probably more. We animal welfare folks are so quick to imagine every possible negative that we often completely overlook the positives.

    PS: When I was at the animal control shelter we would never have transferred in animals. Each organization should have a clear mission and that mission might be defined by its contracted activities.

    This comment is almost as long as a post!!

  3. curtis says:

    As I have come to find out, there is huge opportunity to save in the Twin Cities. In fact, animals brought to Twin Cities shelters only have a 55% chance of survival. 15,000 are euthanized in the city each year (

    So why transfer in more animals from afar?

    Does importing young, small and fluffy puppies from Georgia help Twin Cities shelters compete against puppy mills? Reduce shelter deaths locally? Do the pet stores thrive because the shelter is otherwise filled with dogs that nobody wants?

    I do not believe it.

    I agree that transferring out is a key component to any sheltering program.
    However, to attempt to impact shelter deaths nationally through transfers can be an exercise in futility and lacks focus.
    For example, trapping 50 feral cats for TNR is great, but if each is from a different state your efforts to reduce stray cat populations will be in vain. However, if all are from a 10 block radius, you can make a real impact!

    So, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

    It is wonderful that your shelter is taking in animals from your local animal control. There must be collaboration and teamwork within communities for sheltering to succeed.
    Yet, a defined service area is also key to best serving animals within our community. Those local animals in need are truly our constituents.

  4. Great posting and comment to clarify the way transferring animasl saves lives. Our shelter had used the Rescue Waggin’ in the past but has stopped doing so due to disease-control issues … it is such a shame. We are still killing so many …

    On another note, I love the new look of the site but have one small comment — I don’t know if it is just me and how I have my computer set up, but I’m having a hard time reading the small font on the postings.

  5. admin says:

    Actually, respectfully, it sounds as though you need a little more data before you can find out if transferring is wrong for your community but as I said, this is not a how-to article nor an endorsement on this particular shelter but rather a celebration of the achievements of individuals contributing to lifesaving.

    If there are puppies flooding into your shelters then they shouldn’t be bringing puppies in. If there are few to no puppies (as there are in our region) then bringing them in is not displacing. There is a “market” for puppies. To deny that is to deny reality. If they are dying in one place and there’s none in another place, it is unthinkable not to save those lives.

    To compare the desire for some families to adopt a puppy to the adoption of adult dogs is comparing apples to oranges. Cats are not dogs, Kittens are not puppies, Adult cats are not kittens, etc. All need programs and one doesn’t come at the expense of the other.

    Could there be more work within your community? Absolutely, hands down. There are likely multiple factors at play including the inability for organizations to cooperate.

    I’m wondering how many of those deaths are cats (and kittens). Would be nice to see the breakdown. Got it? And may of those can be chalked up to inefficient cooperative transfer and adoption programs, poor handling, lack of foster care, all of which points to mediocre shelter management.

    But once again - if there are few puppies in your service area and you do not have contractual obligations for specific services - bring in the puppies. You shelter will have an overall higher profile in the community, you’ll raise more money (if you do it right) and you will be able to save even MORE lives right there within your community.

  6. admin says:

    Michel, thanks! My font is small at home but normal at work. I’ll see if I can fix that in the code. Be prepared for me to break the site!!

    That is a total drag that your shelter wasn’t able to stay on the Rescue Waggin program. We just got onto RW as a receiving shelter for dogs. We’ve been transferring in for years but to have this system in place where all the work is top notch is just great. One of the shelters we work with (they don’t just work with us of course) took their dog deaths from a 90% kill to a 90% save in one year. Just amazing.

  7. It all has to start with the study of good records. Find out what is happening in your local animal shelters and rescue groups. What animals are dieing and what animals are being adopted. Even keep an eye on what your local breeders are moving too.

    More animal lives can be saved through different programs and animal transfers/transport can be one of these programs.

    Try to keep an open mind and study all the facts (short and long term) before deciding if a program is positive or negative.

    Thank you for this post and for allowing people to comment. This helps everyone discover more.

  8. Curtis says:

    I see, thanks for your insight on cats/dogs/puppies/kittens… yes definitely different markets.
    Fewer litters being brought to the shelters sounds like a great start!

  9. Jill says:

    If there is surplus and demand, then use that surplus to fulfill demand. However, there are other ways to find an adoptable animal outside your immediate city.

    The first that comes to mind is I know here in the Kansas City area, there are a bunch of no-kill rescue shelters, and with many of them being remote, that website is their best chance at getting their furry tenants adopted out.

    Just my two-cents.

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