Sean Kiel is a no-nonsense guy with a gruff voice and a tough demeanor. A truck driver for 30 years, he describes himself as an “alpha male” who tends to keep his emotions “hidden pretty well.”
But get him talking about the curly white Bichon Frise he helped rescue from a dark life in a puppy mill, and all of that changes.
“Here I am, a big ol’ tough truck driver, and I’m sitting here choking up right now,” said Kiel, 46, who just transported the grateful fluff ball to a woman in California who was eager to give the dog a good home. “She was so happy to get that dog — just absolutely happy. It was so touching to see.”
Kiel is a new recruit to an informal and ever-growing network of animal lovers who are transporting rescued dogs, cats, bunnies, ferrets and even the occasional monitor lizard or pot-bellied pig to loving homes, even if those homes are located hundreds of miles away. This unofficial Underground Railroad is powered by truckers, pilots, animal rescue groups and volunteers who provide “layover homes” to all kinds of creatures as they journey to new and happier lives.