Getting ready for a road trip is something James Harbor is used to.
“Shiloh, you coming down here?” Harbor said as he sat down in his RV’s driver seat.
The retired Plano police officer is in good company. His rescue, Shiloh, is never too far away.
“She’s got all this room in this 32-foot RV to roam, but she usually stays next to me,” Harbor said.
He adopted Shiloh in May 2015. Several months later, she inspired Harbor to start a nonprofit called Shiloh’s Road to Hope.
Together, they volunteer to transport animals between rescue groups and drive them from overcrowded humane societies in Texas to near-empty ones in other states where there are fewer stray dogs.
“It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot more work than I ever planned on doing in retirement, but it’s rewarding,” Harbor said.
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In just two and a half years of operation, Shiloh’s Road to Hope has transported more than 1,300 animals.
It takes a lot of organization and a Tetris-like use of RV space.
“I’ll put crates here top and bottom...I’ll put a tarp down and then we’ll put kennels back here...it makes a bed and I’ll put crates on it. This bunk up here, slides out and I’ll put small crates up here,” Harbor said as he gave a tour of his RV.
He has fit up to 65 dogs in his RV at one time, but no matter how many dogs are traveling, Shiloh is always a perfect host.
“She [Shiloh] likes to greet all of them when they come in,” Harbor said. “I think she’s aware that these dogs were in the same position she was in and that she’s helping to save them.”
He said if they didn’t do this for these animals, “Eventually most of them would be euthanized at the shelter,” Harbor said. “That’s not a knock on the shelter, but when you’ve got an animal shelter in a county that holds 35 dogs and they’ve got 60 with more coming in all the time — eventually something’s gotta give.”
Being able to save an animal’s life is why he does this for free. His payment is seeing pictures of happily-adopted dogs who once didn’t have a forever home.
“You know, you see a dog that spent six months in a shelter and now he’s sleeping on a king-size bed or swimming in a pool or laying on a couch,” Harbor said.
And that is what makes driving through retirement worth it. Shiloh’s Road to Hope is a nonprofit. It is currently raising money to add an additional transport van to their fleet.
The van is customized for this type of animal-transportation work. If you’d like to help the organization, here is a link to donate.