Going the Distance for Houston’s Homeless Pets

From escaping the local shelters to arriving to their forever home, the animals that Rescued Pets Movement saves go on a journey – both figuratively and literally. That journey is made possible by our army of volunteers, fosters, and staff members – especially our team of dedicated drivers.

In our monthly “Driver Feature,” we recognize the long, challenging work our team of drivers do each and every week. Our goal is to help you better understand what goes into each transport and then share ways you can help ensure our organization succeeds in its mission to save the lives of homeless pets across the Houston area.

Staff Member: Darryl Ehler

Position: Lead Driver

Time working with RPM: 4 Years

Rescued Pets Movement: How long have you worked with RPM?

Darryl Ehler: I’ve had the opportunity of transporting for RPM since November of 2014.

How did you hear about RPM?

DE: I learned about RPM and their valiant mission to save the lives of Houston’s overwhelming amount of neglected, overpopulated, and forgotten pets through an old friend of mine who was involved with us at the time.

Can you explain the transport process from start to finish?

DE: As the Lead Driver with Rescued Pets Movement, by the time we return to Houston from a successful transport of rescue animals to Colorado, my mission to prepare for the next transport has already begun.

For me, a transport starts with ensuring that our transport vans are serviced and in safe operating conditions. Once we have determined how many animals we will be transporting on a given week, I then determine how many vans and drivers will be required, lining that out accordingly.

Transport mornings (Thursdays) are everyone’s favorite day of the week. We get to see all of our fosters, volunteers, donors, and staff at their best, advocating for these amazing animals. It’s incredible to see the amount of love and care our fosters have for each and every animal we transport!

While the drivers get their vans set up, the dogs and cats (along with the occasional pig) are brought through to be collared and seen by our veterinarian. Then, we begin loading the animals into their assigned van and crate.

After each animal has been loaded, we begin our 2,200-mile journey. From the time we leave the RPM facility, we stop every 4-6 hours at safe, predetermined locations to exercise and feed the animals. Once we reach Colorado, which is normally around midnight, we stop for the night to get as much rest as we can, remaining in the vans with the dogs and cats. At 6 a.m., we check on the welfare of each animal, take them out for exercise, and feed them breakfast. We are back on the road by 7 a.m., heading for our first drop-off of the day.

On any given transport, we have up to 10 drop-off locations where we meet all the other amazing rescue partners we work with, including their fosters and adopters, to deliver the animal or animals. Our meeting locations stretch from Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, and beyond.

At each of the drops, it’s always amazing to watch our organization’s mission come full circle, seeing all the happy homes these animals are going to. We’ve even had families show up with their children holding big homemade banners welcoming their new family member to Colorado! It truly is a beautiful experience to be a part of and to witness. It is so fulfilling to all of us to see these animals get the second chance they deserve!

Only after the last animal is safely delivered do we point our transport vans southward and begin our journey back to Houston. As soon as we get back, we begin preparing for another incredible journey to save Houston’s homeless pets. 

What made you want to drive for RPM?

DE: I wanted to help RPM embark on this incredible and monumental mission to save thousands of otherwise helpless pets. It has been an extraordinary opportunity to help our community, as the organization has come together for the sake of the lives of those that don’t have a voice or the ability to help themselves.

What has been your favorite memory driving for RPM?

DE: I’ve had so many great memories and experiences transporting for RPM that it would be hard to single out a favorite memory. I would have to say my favorite memories are the ones where we help animals that have otherwise been deemed unadoptable or have had major trauma find the loving home they ever so needed and deserved.

What’s something you wish you would have known before you started driving for RPM?

DE: If there were anything I wish I had known before my opportunity of being with RPM, it would be the extent of the problem RPM aims to solve. I had no idea things were as bad as they are here in my own hometown before RPM began enlightening the community. I wish there was more public outreach from local news and affiliates about Houston’s homeless pet problems. 

What has been the most difficult part about driving for RPM?

DE: The most difficult part of driving for RPM would be saying goodbye to some of the amazing dogs and cats that you’ve grown to love along their journey from living on the streets, to the shelter, and to their forever homes.

What’s the best part about driving for RPM?

DE: The best part of driving for RPM is seeing the humility displayed by humanity as people come together from two different, and often multiple, parts of the country to ensure these animals receive the help and homes they truly deserve. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever been able to be a part of!  

We are blessed to have Darryl in the RPM family, and we couldn’t do our hard work without him. With all the time, money, and resources that go into our weekly transports, we need your help to ensure that Darryl and our drivers have what they need to continue doing this life-saving work. Your donations help these animals get where they need to go – loving forever homes with families who are waiting for them.

Learn more about how you can donate to our cause or how you can get involved with RPM as a volunteer.