by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Soul of Photography

Hope for Animals

volunteer_mccarthy2After a career in accounting and information systems, Mike McCarthy decided it was time for a second take on his career. What he didn’t realize at the time was that he would be providing homeless animals a second take on their lives. “I wanted my next career to be something that gave back to our community,” he shared. “I always had a soft spot for animals.”

Three years ago, Mike founded Rescue Express, a nonprofit organization that relocates animals from high-kill shelters in California to be adopted into homes in the Pacific Northwest. The idea came while Mike was helping renovate an animal adoption facility in Eugene, OR that was taking in animals from California shelters. “A little-known fact is that there is a shortage of adoptable animals in the Pacific Northwest. Widespread spay/neuter programs and responsible pet ownership up north were keeping local shelters nearly empty,” Mike explained. “With nearly 800,000 dogs and cats still being euthanized each year in California, I see relocating California animals to Oregon, Washington, and Canada as both a solution to save shelter animal lives and to satisfy the Pacific Northwest demand for adoptable animals.”

Name: Michael McCarthy
Community: Rancho Santa Fe
Volunteer Affiliation: Rescue Express
Hobbies & Interests: Helicopter pilot, scuba diver, skiing, hiking, home improvement projects

Name of Group: Rescue Express, a DBA and registered trademark of MGM Animal Foundation
Purpose: To relocate rescue animals from high-kill shelters in the central California valley to Oregon, Washington, and Canada.

volunteer_mccarthy1Today, the Rescue Express trucks, specially outfitted to transport animals, relocate 250 shelter animals every week. “We will transport 12,000 animals over the next 12 months,” Mike said. “With a trip cost of $4,000 and 250 animals on board, our transport cost per animal from San Diego to the Pacific Northwest is an economical $16.”

The lifesaving work is accomplished by a small team of staff and volunteers and the support of their donors. Mike oversees all aspects of the operation. “Transporting and caring for 250 animals over 1,100 miles during a 38-hour round-trip drive requires detailed planning and execution to make sure everyone arrives safe and sound,” he acknowledged. The most rewarding aspect of the work, Mike shared, is “knowing that we have saved over 16,500 animals over the last three years and that they will live a long, happy life with an appreciative adopter.” The hardest part of his work is knowing “that far too many have to be left behind each week,” he said.

“We will transport 12,000 animals over the next 12 months.”

Mike and his team at Rescue Express welcome new volunteers and donors. There are a number of ways to get involved, from helping prepare the tractor trailer for the next trip north to event planning and office support. With additional volunteer and financial support, Mike knows Rescue Express can do even more to save the lives of adoptable animals.