Most days, Matthew’s days start early. Veeeery early. As our Animal Transport Assistant, Matthew is a crucial part of our Rescue team. Two or three times weekly (and sometimes more!) he visits local shelters or makes the long trek to the Central Valley in one of our rescue vehicles to pick up large groups of animals from our partner shelters who need assistance with the animals in their care. “The driving isn’t ideal,” Matthew says. “But once you know the reason you’re doing it, it’s so worth it.”
Many of the animals Matthew brings in need the kind of specialized medical care that we are lucky enough to be able to provide, while some are shy or may need other behavioral support to help them reach their full potential. Others just need a change of scenery and a different audience of potential adopters in order to find their perfect match and leave the shelter faster. Their needs may be different, but they all have one thing in common – Matthew is there for them.
On a morning in late August, Matthew started the day as he usually does. He loaded up the Rescue Roadster, one of our transport vehicles, before the sun was up. He then began the long drive to the Central Valley.
But today wasn’t just any other day. Instead of his usual trip to a single shelter to bring in a few dozen animals, Matthew would be visiting four of our partner shelters who were dealing with overcrowding issues. He would be returning with nearly 60 animals — a record for a single trip.
Matthew began the 3.5 hour drive and arrived at the first shelter early that morning. He took 20 dogs and 9 kittens. Throughout the day, he continued his route to the next three destinations, taking in dozens of animals from the overcrowded shelters.
Along the way, Matthew meets with staff and volunteers at these shelters to assess their needs and take in as many animals as we have space for. Our partner shelters love working with Matthew. His kind, nonjudgmental demeanor endears him quickly to staff and volunteers at these shelters, and he’s able to create a space for trust and respect. Thanks to his incredible personality, Matthew is able to create relationships with our partners, which helps us work together to increase the lifesaving capacity of the Central Valley shelters.
By 10:30 a.m., Matthew had already finished visiting each of the four shelters. He drove back to our Milpitas Animal Community Center and arrived by 2 p.m., and then the next phase started. One by one, Matthew and a group of other volunteers and staff unloaded the animals from the van and took them through the “triage” process. This process takes dozens of staff and volunteers who create an assembly line to ensure each animal is examined, weighed, vaccinated, and placed in appropriate housing.
Some of the puppies and kittens were sent to loving foster homes until they were old enough for adoption. Others needed medical care, and were monitored closely and started on treatment. The rest were placed on our adoption floor within days and found homes quickly.
Transport staff and volunteers waiting in line for their puppies to be examined and vaccinated
The following day, Matthew was back at work early again. This time, he would be visiting local partner shelters to take in more than a dozen kittens, some of them sick and needing care. The work never stops.
We’re so grateful to have Matthew as an amazing part of our Rescue team. “It’s so rewarding,” he says. “It’s a dream job.”