Underground Railroad (GUR) is a volunteer organization
that moves Greyhounds (usually retired racers) across the
country to new adoptive homes. Most of the time these
dogs are coming straight off the track or from an
adoption group. Occasionally they come from adoptive
owners who, for whatever reason, need to find new homes
for them. And now and then they come from other sources.
GUR is not intended to be used for every Greyhound that needs to be transported. While the volunteers all do this as a labor of love and enjoy it, it does take time and money on each volunteer's part to complete a run. Those people who have other feasible means to move their dogs, such as commercial haulers, air shipment, etc., should use them. GUR is primarily for those who have no other reasonable way to get a dog home. They are often special needs dogs (puppies or old dogs, or dogs with health or behavioral problems) who could not be adopted out locally. It takes a special person to adopt a special needs dog, so we make every effort to go the distance for them.
Our system works this way: When a person needs a GUR run s/he contacts one of the GUR coordinators to get things started. The coordinator will map out one or more possible routes from the starting point to the destination, and then divide the run up into legs. The legs are normally from 50 to 150 miles long, depending on variables such as volunteer availability and specific road conditions. In urban areas where traffic is heavy we try to keep the legs a bit shorter.
Then we beat the bushes for volunteers by posting to the Greyhound-L list, the Greyhound Rescue list, and anywhere else we think we can find reliable drivers. Except in very sparsely populated areas, it's not usually too hard to find enough volunteers to complete a run. The drivers all have a ball and most can't wait to volunteer for the next one in their area! Not only do they get to feel good about helping a Greyhound and his/her people, they often get to meet new friends that they had only known through email before.
Normally each volunteer drives one leg, but occasionally some Greyhound saint will take two. Then s/he hands off to the driver for the next leg until our 4-legged hitchhiker has been relayed all the way home. Sometimes the runs are as short as 2 or 3 legs, and other times it takes a dozen or more people to get the job done. The teamwork among Greyhound lovers is amazing!
Each GUR coordinator has her own style of organizing things. My way is to set up a web page for each run, with a description of the dog and a picture (when available), a map of the route, and a table showing the legs, distances, estimated driving times, drivers, and their estimated times of arrival at their handoff points. This system seems to help me keep straight who goes where, and gives all the volunteers (and potential volunteers) a place where they can find the latest updates on the status of the run. Originally I planned to take each run page down after the run was completed, but I decided to leave them up and link them all here. A few of the pages get better after the run is completed because volunteers send me pictures taken along the way, and the new family sends pictures of our passenger in his/her new home. I have posted a few of these pictures and have several more waiting to be put up (soon, I hope).