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Dog days

A Medford grandmother with a heart for homeless dogs and cats is asking people to step up as volunteer drivers and to clean out their stashes of collars, leashes and other unneeded pet supplies.

In her half-dozen years with Gettin’ Em Home Transport, Charyl Ray said she has transported 400 or more pets in need of a way to get from shelters and foster homes to their permanent placements.

More often than not, she said, transporters end up buying supplies, especially leashes used to pass dogs off between drivers.

“When we do a transport, we require that the dog comes with two leashes and a collar and harness. Those are the things that are most ignored or lost in translation,” said Ray.

“But obviously we still take the dog even if they don’t show up with whatever they need. It’s like hauling a kid. You know you’re going to forget a diaper or something.”

Ray, who has transported animals ranging from special needs pups to oversized pigs, said she’d rather not think about how much she’s spent buying leashes, harnesses, collars and other supplies, but she tries to keep an eye out when she shops at yard sales and discount stores.

One of two transport coordinators for the nonprofit, which primarily transports up and down the Interstate 5 corridor, Ray began as a volunteer driver in 2015 as a tribute to her late rescue dog, a shepherd named Abby.

Ray said her pup, who died in her old age, helped foster some 300 kittens in her final years. In addition to driving, Ray helps to coordinate and communicate between drivers to fill in sections of a drive, getting animals from “point A to point B.”

“I do all this to honor my Abby. When she died, that was probably the worst grief I ever went through in my life, and it lasted the longest. I still grieve for her, and she died in 2012, so this is a way to honor her,” Ray said.

“This way I help lots of dogs. I get my dog fix, and I’m helping combat the problem of pets who need forever homes.”

Ray said she figures lots of locals have extra leashes or collars that were purchased and didn’t work out for one reason or another and, perhaps, ended up in a box or drawer.

“I know a lot of drivers try to carry extras with them — leashes and a harness, usually — as well as puppy pads, blankets, crates, etc. I’m just trying to stockpile some supplies. Basically, if people have some sitting around that aren’t being used, I’m happy to pass them on to those who need them,” she said.

Ray is also recruiting for extra drivers. Of 300-plus volunteers signed up for Gettin’ Em Home, about 10% are active.

Ray said she’s holding a drive for the next several months, with a drop site location at Medford’s Happy Tails Pet Wash, 450 Highland Drive. Clean, new or gently used items can be dropped off between noon and 4 p.m. daily.

Usable items include leashes, puppy pads, pet beds, collars, harnesses and blankets.

While the animals are unable to speak for themselves, Ray said she knows the four-legged souls she spends her weekends and days off caring for would voice their gratitude if they could.

“What’s really cool, especially with rescue dogs; no matter how horrific they may have been treated or what they’ve come from, they are so stinking resilient and so loving and so grateful,” she said.

“I’ll pick them up and keep them for the night, and they could be so stressed, but once they’ve been home for the night, even within 10 minutes, they’re relaxed and happy and playing. Who knows what dogs think, but I am struck by how trusting and how grateful they are.”

To donate, or for more information, see gettinemhome.com. Contact Ray by email at charylray57@gmail.com.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

courtesy photoCharyl Ray said she has probably transported 400 or more pets in need of a way to get from shelters and foster homes to their permanent placements.