BEAVERCREEK — It’s a windy April morning, and Gary Turnipseed is waiting in his maroon Honda Element for his passenger to arrive. He’s in a mostly empty parking lot at The Greene in Beavercreek on a cloudy Monday morning, and while that combination might have most people down, he seems excited.
“Today’s an amazing rescue,” he says with a smile.
A few minutes later, Denise Gold arrives, carrying a small bundle. Turnipseed’s passenger is placed gently in his vehicle and soon the two are on the road heading to the Columbus area. There, he’ll meet Christy Parson, whose home his passenger will soon settle into as her own.
Today, that passenger – Skye, the special needs English bulldog formerly known as Pickles – has a forever home in Ashland, Ohio, thanks to the efforts of Gold, Turnipseed and a long chain of volunteers, each doing their part to move the dog a little bit closer to her new home. The two were a pair of links in a nine-link chain that stretches back to a special needs bulldog rescue in Missouri.
According to Parson, one of Skye’s co-owners, the dog – who has spina bifida, a congenital birth defect that affects the lower part of her spine – is home and blending in well with Parson’s other animals, now that the 700-plus mile journey to get her there is done.
After all that work, Parson is grateful to those who volunteered to help.
“People that give their time and volunteer to do this, if it wasn’t for them, there’d be lots of animals that would end up being euthanized in shelters,” she said.
“We just try to save lives”
While Turnipseed aided in this particular transport on his own, he typically makes similar runs with Ruff Transport, an animal rescue transport group based in the Greene County and the greater Dayton area. According to Turnipseed, in the two years since the non-profit group was formed, it has helped to transport about 500 animals more than 50,000 miles.
Turnipseed said the group often helps to transport animals from “kill shelters,” where animals could be euthanized after a certain period of time, or from foster homes.
“When you know that animals are in a shelter, and you know that the shelters are overcrowded in a lot of situations, and they can only do what they can do, and they can only support what they can support …,” he said. “We just try to save lives. It’s really what it comes down to.”
Turnipseed volunteers for the transports as what he calls a “third career,” after retiring from the Air Force and as a commercial airline pilot. It’s something he does to give back.
Those chains of volunteers are organized by transport coordinators – Turnipseed said Ruff Transport typically works with Toni Kennett, an organizer based out of Cincinnati – who set up all the details for those handoffs between drivers. The organization it takes to make these transports happen is crucial: Parson said one dog she had adopted previously had a chain of 26 people help to get the animal to her.
Whether it’s through the work of organizers like Kennett, drivers like Turnipseed or owners like Parson, all those efforts are directed toward one goal.
“It’s just trying to do the right thing for the animals,” Turnipseed said. “Try to keep as many animals from being euthanized if possible is really what it comes down to.”
Ruff Transport is currently conducting a shoe collection drive to raise money for its efforts. For donation locations, visit the non-profit organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/rufftransport.