Clear the shelters

‘Bark Bus' Brings Dogs From Overcrowded Shelters to Connecticut for Adoption

Dog Star Rescue has two buses that volunteers can use to transport pets on part of the journey to their “forever homes."

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At Dog Star Rescue, Clear the Shelters takes on more than one meaning. Volunteers not only work tirelessly to find the dogs already at their Bloomfield location loving homes - they are also taking long road trips to southern states, getting dogs out of overcrowded shelters and bringing them to Connecticut.

It’s all thanks to the Bark Bus. The wheels on that bus have covered hundreds of miles, making multiple journeys to North and South Carolina.

“We visit kill shelters there to bring home dogs that would otherwise be euthanized,” Mark Rowley, a Bark Bus driver for Dog Star Rescue, said.

“There’s an enormous need,” Angelo Casa Grande, Bark Bus driver for Dog Foster Parent, added.

Two buses have two pet names: Betty and Thomas. Thomas needs a bit of engine work before hitting the road, but Betty made her inaugural trip in spring of 2021 and has brought back dozens of dogs since then.

Rowley is one of three volunteers who left for the latest trip to the Carolinas Thursday. Betty the Bark Bus was loaded up with supplies on the way down.

“We can help the shelters where we visit,” Rowley said.

On the drive back up, they transported the bus that will arrive Saturday.

“It's an amazing feeling. Our transport team is always here waiting in the morning,” Veronica Beaupre, director of adoption events at Dog Star Rescue, said. “We've had several adoptions of those dogs same-day. So you know, they make the transport up from the Carolinas, slug 20-hour haul, and then they get adopted into their forever home.”

"Betty has the capacity to transport 28 dogs. Volunteers say when all of those dogs are moved up to Connecticut, it clears spaces in shelters in the south for other dogs.

"Our particular rescue model is really based on the imbalance of supply and demand we see between the South and the North,” Veronica Beaupre said. “Up here, there are a lot of people they want to adopt. They have the resources to support a family pet, and down south we see kind of the opposite. There's just more dogs than they can handle."

The effort is saving lives, like Monte’s, a black-lab mix being fostered through Dog Star Rescue.

“He's about 13 months old, loves playing with other dogs, loves people,” Casa Grande, Monte’s foster dad, said.

And Monte loves the Bark Bus, taking an opportunity to board for fun when the bus was parked outside of the rescue organization. However, he ended up at Dog Star Rescue after another group transported him from Mississippi.

The volunteers say there is a huge need for the partnerships the non-profit has built with shelters out of state.

“Dogs can't help themselves. Dogs can't speak for themselves. It’s doing our part,” Casa Grande said.

Over and over, they see proof that taking home a rescue can change a dog’s life,” Beaupre said.

It can and will change a pet parent’s life.

“These are terrific dogs, and through no fault of their own they were put in situations that really weren't good to start with,” Casa Grande said. “It's amazing the resiliency that these dogs have, and just the reservoir of love that they have.”

The Bark Bus is also used for local transportation and at off-site adoption events.

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