How dogs are selected for transport to Animal Humane Society

April 09, 2021
Dog looking over kennel wall

Did you know a lot of the dogs in our adoption centers come to Animal Humane Society from other out-of-state shelters? If you’ve adopted a dog from AHS in the last five years, there’s a good chance they were transported from another part of the country. Our transport program exists for two reasons.

  1. Other parts of the country, especially our southern states, are overpopulated with homeless animals. Safely transporting these animals to the Twin Cities saves lives and gives second chances to animals that might not otherwise have one. It also frees up resources in those communities so they can invest in expanding spay/neuter programs and address other root causes of animal homelessness.
  2. In the Twin Cities, the number of people wanting to adopt outnumbers the population of dogs looking for new homes. Our transport program ensures that we can meet the demand for adoptable dogs here in Minnesota, and reduces our community's reliance on commercial breeding operations.

Some of dogs selected for transport have waited months, even years, to be adopted. Or they may be coming from a shelter that doesn’t have enough space for all the animals needing care. After traveling hundreds of miles to Minnesota, many of these dogs are often adopted within just days of arriving at AHS.

Every month over the last several years, our out-of-state transport program has brought hundreds of animals to our shelters. Those number came to a screeching halt in March 2020 as AHS temporarily closed its doors to the public and suspended all transports from out-of-state due to COVID-19.

We used that time to reassess our transport program and seized the opportunity to make improvements. Starting with a few of our partners, AHS began transporting dogs again in August 2020, and we’re currently welcoming more than 400 dogs by transport each month. That number will slowly grow as we work with our existing partners to rebuild transport in new and better ways.

California Chihuahua transport

How dogs are selected for transport

So, how does Animal Humane Society choose which dogs to transport to Minnesota? The short answer is, we don’t! Our transport partners know their animals best and they determine which dogs in their care are good candidates for transport.

While our partners make the final decision on which dogs to send north, we request a variety of ages, breeds, sizes, and conditions. We want to be sure potential adopters here in Minnesota can find the right dog, one that fits their lifestyle and can successfully acclimate to their new environment.

Generally, for each transport we try to follow the "Rule of Thirds":

  • 1/3 healthy adult dogs
  • 1/3 dogs needing specialized medical or behavioral care
  • 1/3 puppies

The exact mix varies by transport and shelter, but this breakdown is an important part of being a good partner. By committing to this balance, we give animals a second chance at a loving home; help our partners free up time, space, and other resources; and avoid taking more animals than we can responsibly care for in our own facilities. And by not taking all the cute puppies, we leave our partners with animals that are more likely to find homes in their own communities.

Transporting animals from other shelters isn’t a transaction — it’s a commitment to helping animals and the people who love them, no matter where they are. We take in animals that might never be placed in the South, not because they’re broken or bad, but because we have the ability to help.

AHS is among the best-equipped destination shelters in the country for animal transport. From our caring staff and medical and behavioral expertise, to our amazing community of animal lovers, we’re all creating the opportunity for a new life for thousands of animals every year.

Want to learn more about Animal Humane Society’s transport program?

Read about why AHS transports and treats heartworm positive dogs.

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