Bear, a 4-1/2–year-old Pekinese, traveled 4,500 miles for nine days across the western United States, British Columbia and the rugged wilderness of the Yukon Territories to be with his new family at their home in North Pole, Alaska.
Bear didn’t have to make the trip alone huddled in a pet carrier at the back of an airplane. David Binz, a Kelso, Wash.-based owner-operator who drives for Alaska West Express in his Kenworth T660, picked him up in Oklahoma and delivered Bear to his new home in Alaska after picking up a load in Texas. This touching story on Binz’s trip to Alaska was featured in a national news segment about Operation Roger that aired recently on NBC’s Nightly News.
“Pets are like a gift from God,” said Binz, who volunteers for Operation Roger, a Texas-based non-profit group made up of truck drivers who take rescued animals and transport them to new homes. “There are so many good pets out there that get placed into shelters and need new homes.
“Shelters often find they get too many of one breed and, while there’s a demand for them in another part of the country, there’s no way to get them there. So, they have to put them down.”
Truck drivers like Binz make it possible to move pets like Bear from one part of the country to the other. To pay the freight for Bear and other pets like him, and to make his living, Binz hauls a variety of oversized items usually destined for the mines and oilfields in Alaska from manufacturers in the States.
He hauls them on flatbed trailers with his T660 to barges, which are loaded at the ports in Seattle and Tacoma. The barges then travel up to Alaska pulled by tug boats. Occasionally, he delivers loads directly to Alaska via the TransCanada and Alaska highways.
Binz said his 2011 KW T660, equipped with a 15-liter, 550-hp Cummins ISX15 engine, 18-speed transmission and 72-inch AeroCab sleeper, helps him and his wife, Patricia Hall, run a successful business called Hall-N-Binz Inc. That makes it possible for him to spend the extra time needed to deliver pets across the United States and to Alaska, he added.
“My Kenworth truck gets a little over 1 mpg better fuel economy than my previous truck,” Binz said. “That’s about a 14 to 16% improvement in fuel economy. I’m finding that when fuel gets to be about $4 a gallon, the fuel savings almost makes my monthly truck payment.”
Immediately after he bought it, Binz said he noticed a big difference in how quiet, comfortable and economical the T660 was compared to his previous truck.
“With the comfort I get, it seems I am more relaxed and not as fatigued,” he added. “It certainly makes me more willing to volunteer since I am not as tired at the end of my driving shift. I can enjoy walking the dogs and spending time with the pets I’m transporting making them more comfortable.”
Binz also volunteers to transport animals for Kindred Hearts Transport Connection, another pet rescue organization. Binz said he first learned about Kindred Hearts and Operation Roger during a search last year for a dog to adopt. Binz said his wife found a German wire hair pointer named Stanley in Florida from Florida Big Dog Rescue.
Stanley was about to be put to sleep because the local shelter had too many dogs from the homes of older people who died or who could no longer care for them, Binz said. Meanwhile, there was a demand for those dogs in other places around the country like Colorado and Tennessee. That’s when Binz decided to become a volunteer transporter for both pet organizations.
Since joining Operation Roger and Kindred Hearts Transport Connection as a volunteer in 2012, Binz has transported 12 dogs and two cats for, accompanied by his 6-1/2-year-old brindle-colored Blue Healer mix dog, Izzy. Stanley usually stays at home with Patricia Hall, his wife.
What’s on the horizon for Binz? More pet locations and possibly a new truck to haul them in. He said he plans to buy a new Kenworth T680, equipped with a PACCAR MX-13 engine, from Papé Kenworth in Kelso.
“The dogs and cats I deliver to their new homes certainly don’t care what kind of truck I drive, but I’m excited about the possibility of getting the T680 with its wider cab and even better fuel economy,” he said.
For more information about Operation Roger Truckers Pet Transport or Kindred Hearts Transport, and to donate or become a volunteer transporter, visit the organizations’ web sites at http://www.kindredheartstransportconnection.org or http://www.operationroger.com/.