AUSTIN (KXAN) — Animal shelters across Texas are overcrowded with pets that need homes.

According to Austin Pets Alive!, thousands of animals annually are euthanized statewide.

To lighten the load on these shelters, the nonprofit has rolled out a tool to transport dozens of dogs and cats to safety.

The CUDDLY Rescue Rover recently took a 9-hour trip up from Laredo, Texas to the APA! headquarters.

Clare Callison with Austin Pets Alive! says most of the animals being transported were only minutes away from having their lives tragically taken away.

“Many of them were literally minutes from euthanasia at the shelters that they came from,” she said. Once they’re here at Austin Pets Alive, we make sure that they’re safe.”             

Euthanasia is a fate hundreds of healthy animals face due to a lack of food, resources and shelter space.

When it comes to transferring these pets to no-kill rescue organizations, transportation is often a missing piece of the puzzle.

APA! said its program saves lives by connecting pets in Texas shelters on euthanasia deadlines to lifesaving rescue partners that have a surplus of adopters. According to APA!, “there are regions of the U.S. and Canada, where the high adoption demand exceeds the local pet population and the opposite is true in many Texas communities.”

A huge help arrived in 2022, when CUDDLY — a fundraising platform sending supplies and aid to nonprofit animal rescues — rolled out a rescue rover for the staff at APA! to utilize.

APA! has a Transport Program which has about 60 destination partners and 100 source shelter partners.

Callison says the CUDDLY van has already saved over 1,000 animals, and in addition, APA!’s transport program has saved over 5,000 lives since its inception.

“The CUDDLY Rescue Rover has been incredibly helpful and crucial for us to be able to move dogs and cats from eight or nine hours away within our own state,” she added.

Most of the animals get sent to partner rescue organizations where a foster or adoptive family is waiting to pick up the animal.

To learn how you could adopt an animal, click here.