AFTER THE FINAL JUNE transport was complete this spring, GPS adoption facilitator Telma Shaw, took a deep breath, and plunged into the planning of fall 2014 transports. Although the planes are climate controlled, some airlines prohibit flying with dogs in the hold during summer months. Therefore, due to heat concerns when the dogs are in crates on the tarmac for an indefinite period of time, we choose not to transport them in the summer.
Facilitating adoptions and transports for Spanish dogs takes skill, experience and persistence. Adoption queries involve several email dialogues — applications are reviewed, adopters vetted and suitability evaluated. Once approved for the adoption of a galgo or podenco, the three-way matchmaking begins between the adopter, the shelter and Telma. Sometimes a story of a particular dog tugs at the heart of a potential adopter. They may be looking to help a dog who has been with a rescue group the longest or may be interested in a young dog. Telma is in contact with the groups GPS works with daily and is familiar with their rooster of dogs. Suggestions are made, photos exchanged, cat testing done if required and the dog’s testing for Mediterranean diseases if not already completed. Once a match is confirmed, then travel routes and dates are considered. The transportation segment of the process has its own challenges and Telma becomes the travel agent advising flight routes and options as well as the cashier assuring that funds are sent directly to the shelters for adoption fees, crates, travel from the shelter to the Madrid airport and flight volunteers for their and the dog’s ticket. Funds are not dispersed through GPS. Because of the prohibitive cost of airlines tickets for the volunteers and the dogs, Telma attempts to group five or six dogs per volunteer so that the cost of the volunteer’s flight ticket (paid by adopters) is shared. Alternatively, we seek travelers returning from Madrid to the US who are willing to transport dogs for us.
Days before the transportation date, Telma sends reminders to the groups — approved crates with metal screws, proper bedding, water dispensers, passports, acclimation letters signed by a veterinarian and a GPS sign-off form are confirmed. For one transport there may be five dogs coming to the airport from five different groups, which involves Telma coordinating five sets of names, phone numbers and airlines gates on the Madrid side with the volunteer escort who is also in touch with the adopter(s) on the US side. The Madrid airport experience with galgos and podencos can be circus of unpredictability that deserves a telling of its own. One would think that once the dogs have gotten through security, are finally loaded and the flight is in the air, Telma could have a few hours relaxation. Instead, she is checking in with the adopters on the US side to make sure that everyone will be on time, in the right place and understands the protocol to accept their hungry, often happy, sometimes scared and always exhausted dogs. Additionally, all the Spanish groups are seeking information about their dogs and are contacting Telma for updates as well. Communications span four time zones!
Until the dogs are on leads and doubled up in harnesses and martingales, passports and papers exchanged and in the arms of their adopters, Telma does not allow herself to relax. Finally with a few hours sleep, another cup of coffee, email exchanges and phone calls about how the new dogs are doing, another adoption cycle begins. Does this sound challenging? The reality is that this description is multiplied by 40–60 per season. (Pictured are this fall’s lucky dogs to date; click on photos to enlarge and hover cursor over photo to see the names of the dogs and groups)