We know that animal transport is a hot topic in animal rescue. So here’s 6 must know tips if you want to be successful at coordinating transports:
1) Know the rules
Many volunteers love the idea of transporting animals to safety and they are quick to sign-up to help not realizing that like many other things in our society, there are rules, and laws that have to be followed in order to avoid fines. These rules are designed to keep the animals and the volunteers safe and exist at both the federal and state levels. From a federal perspective, the USDA is the organization that governs animal transport and they have published a blue book that explains the federal animal welfare regulations including those surrounding transportation of animals. It’s free and you can download it here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/
2) You oughta be in pictures
Did you know that a survey of animal rescue transport volunteers showed that they are 80% more likely to volunteer for a transport if they can see the pictures of the animals up front? Without pictures, the volunteers that receive your request for transport are not developing the emotional connection with the animals that you are asking them to transport. That emotional connection is key to getting them to sign-up to help you. Some organizations do a great job of posting pictures with their transport requests while others…well…they miss the mark. Your pictures should clearly show the animals’s face and come out best if you take them outside in natural light. Hopefully you can capture the essence of the animals’ personality so don’t rush it and take your time to get the right shot.
Of course we mean get lots of puppy kisses. That’s why we do this right? But we are also referring to the acronym Keep It Simple Stupid as a reminder to focus the attention on the most important information first. Did you know that you have on average 8 seconds of someone’s’ attention before they move onto the next thing? That’s not a lot of time to make an impression so simplify your messaging to get to the point. Sure we know you have rules, and procedures and all sorts of interesting information to share but focus your 8 seconds on the pictures, the quick story and which portions of the journey are relevant to the reader. If you start out with paragraphs about your organization’s mission you might use up your 8 seconds before they agree to help.
4) Be prepared, not scared
Yeah we get it that this should be common sense. But while you may be prepared as the coordinator of the transport, what are you doing to prepare your volunteers? Do they know whether they need a crate, leashes and collars? Does each of them have a transport kit with gloves, wipes and puppy pads? The more you prepare your volunteers the more likely they will be to want to drive or fly for you again.
5) Plan B
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. That’s what Mike Tyson famously said anyway and it’s a good reminder to be prepared with your backup plan. What happens if a volunteer has an emergency and cannot drive? What if your pilot cannot do their leg because the weather is crappy? What do you do if a dog escapes en route? Having a Plan B does not mean that you have the perfect solution to the problem. Instead it means that you have thought through the potential issues that might come up and documented what your solution will be. In the moment when people are calling YOU as the TC for advice, having these scenarios thought out and documented will allow you to quickly respond with instructions.
6) What’s your story
Our statistics show that transports with stories are 3x more likely to fill than those without. Wow. You’ll never get those kinds of odds in Vegas. So take some time and give the backstory on the passengers. Tell the story from their perspective, share their situation and more importantly what is waiting for them on the other end of your transport rainbow. That extra few minutes that you put into the story will go a long way in moving someone to take action and get involved to help you.