To help manage an influx of surrendered animals, the Fort Worth animal shelter’s transport program—also known as the 'bark bus'–delivers dogs from Fort Worth to shelters and rescues in other parts of the country with the space and resources to house them.

What happened

According to a city news release, a smaller pool of potential adopters following the pandemic, combined with the large increase of surrendered animals, has resulted in an overcrowding problem in shelters nationwide. To help combat this crisis, many shelters have sought different ways to clear cages and save lives.

The news release states that volunteers relocate pets from Fort Worth to areas where overpopulation isn’t an issue and the desire for adoptable animals is high.

“We do monthly trips to the Pacific Northwest and to New England with dogs from our shelter,” said Brittany Parker, senior code compliance officer. “We sent out 34 dogs on transport to Oregon on Nov. 13. Nine of those dogs came off of the Code Red list, so this is truly a lifesaving effort for these pups.”

During the week of Nov. 20, the news release states that 59 dogs were headed to Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

“Our transport partners are other shelters or rescue groups out of state that are able to take our dogs because they don’t experience the high volume of animal overpopulation that we do here in the South,” Parker explained.

Sorting out details

Before the dogs can become transfer candidates, they must be in foster homes for at least two weeks, according to the news release. Parker said that this requirement ensures that they are healthy enough to pass their interstate health certificate exam.

Fostering not only helps the dogs who are scheduled to ship out; Parker said that when they go into foster homes, it opens up kennels for incoming dogs at the shelter.

“And that saves even more lives,” Parker said.

What you need to know

According to the news release, fosters are provided with all necessary supplies, including food and toys, for the duration of the pet’s stay.

The Fort Worth Animal Fostering Program website states the following about the various types of fostering needed:
  • Short-term foster placement, such as an out and about day trip or an overnight sleepover. Short-term fostering decreases stress in the animals, gives them a break from the shelter and helps staff gain valuable information about the pet to help match them with their future adopter.
  • Medium-large adult dogs who have been in the shelter for longer than 30 days. These dogs often need to get out of the shelter and have someone advocating for them to find an adopter.
  • Puppies/kittens or moms with newborns that are too young to be adopted
  • Pets recovering from an illness or injury needing some extra care