Whenever we travel through Tennessee, we are lucky to have a homebase just outside of Nashville at the home of a rescue hero of mine. Laura Prechel is the mind and heart behind CASA Transport, which saved more than 2400 animals in 2022.
Laura has been doing this for a long time and has saved thousands of dogs, but in the last two years, she formed CASA with two other rescue advocates. Their mission is to save the most vulnerable dogs, get them vetted, find a rescue for them, and move them out of Tennessee.
With the help of volunteers and a few veterinarians they are able to send two transports of dogs out each week. The dogs leave almost always already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, and heartworm tested. They go by van, car, and sometimes plane.
Up until this past year, Laura and then CASA has operated out of her home. We always enjoyed meeting the passengers awaiting transport when we stayed with Laura. But now, CASA has its own casa!
And what a beautiful, functional, effective space it is.
With their own surgery, they’re able to do spay/neuter and other minor surgeries, in addition to the regular vet work of prepping dogs for transport. Volunteers can easily help Laura care for the animals, load up transports, and clean up afterwards.
Laura and her husband, Brent, purchased the land and building, and continue to support all the work CASA does. Their lives revolve around it. Each time we visit with them, I’m amazed at the stamina and passion involved in this operation. The endless details, the constant heartbreak of the stories they hear, the physical work that while lightened by moving the dogs out of the house is still back-breaking. Not many people are willing to sacrifice so much to save someone else’s dogs.
I can’t begin to imagine the lives that have been touched by Laura and CASA’s work. Not just the dogs, but the families who have welcomed those dogs into their homes and hearts. Dogs that without people like Laura and organizations like CASA, would have died in a dog pound somewhere anonymously.
So many are working so hard, and we owe it to them to share their stories and support their work. Sometimes I think they are simply shoveling sand off an endless beach, but in my heart of hearts, I know they are making a difference. They are slowly, dog by dog, turning the tide. If only more people stepped up – to foster, to volunteer, to speak out, to vote – we will fix this problem sooner.
CASA is saving nearly fifty dogs a week. Fifty. Think about that number. It’s more than a little crazy. I don’t know of another organization doing as much.
CASA is a powerful model for how a committed group of individuals can create real change for the animals in their community, especially in places where there are no municipal shelters, too many unwanted animals, and not enough local homes.
The CASA model is this: Receive requests from shelters and individuals for help, find rescues that will take animals, get the animals vetted, and transport the animals to meet the receiving rescues. Sounds simple, but it takes a lot of people, a lot of time, and a lot of money.
CASA doesn’t charge for their services and so must raise money to do all their work. If you’d like to support them, you can donate through their website. To see the incredible impact they have every week, follow them on Facebook and Instagram and be inspired.
Until each one has a home,
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Learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.
Watch our Emmy-nominated, award-winning short documentary about rescue in western Tennessee here.
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