Freeway chronicles the 3-day, 3,000-mile journey of rescue dogs and people between Alabama and Maine. Accompanying Grateful Doggies – Canine Freedom Transport, I photograph dogs previously abandoned, seized or surrendered, some from shelters practicing gas chamber euthanasia. Once quarantined and vetted, up to 100 dogs are transported to rescue groups and adoptive homes each week.
During transit I photograph at approximately 20 pickup and drop-off points, including fast-food parking lots, gas stations, freeway Welcome Centers, vacant parking lots and other places unfamiliar to these dogs. At each stop the dogs bark anxiously as outside a group forms, some are fosters reluctantly facing goodbye and others excited to welcome their newest rescue. Anxiety, fear and joy in both people and dogs fill the air. How emotions play out in these unusual places is at the heart of my work.
Grateful Doggies began Christmas Eve 2013, Alabama-bound in a 15-foot box truck with crates of dogs secured to both sides and two men taking turns sleeping on the truck floor in the narrow passageway between. I met Grateful Doggies in March 2014 when I brought four puppies, a husky and a cat in my 2-door Honda Civic to a Pet Smart parking lot for a local rescue. Two months later I boarded the Grateful Doggies truck for the first time, offering to care for dogs in exchange for permission to photograph on their trips. On my first transport, I captured a portrait of Wally, tail-tucked and licking his lips, as he approached a red line in the pavement separating him from his new family. Since then I have photographed many other emotional exchanges between rescue dogs and people to create my project, Freeway. To date, Grateful Doggies has saved approximately 10,000 animals. Here are a few of these stories.