Mobile Mutts v2.0 About Us

Mobile Mutts began in 2008 answering the need to provide rescue transports for dogs moving between high kill shelters and the safety of approved and screened rescues through the Midwest. Mobile Mutts Rescue Transports is based out of Champaign, IL and incorporated as a NFP (Not For Profit) Corporation in Illinois (Mobile Mutts is 100% volunteer based). We operate under the leadership of a group of volunteer coordinators and are dedicated to making the transport experience a safe and rewarding one for our volunteers and ultimately for those we work so hard to rescue, the dogs.

It takes a village to make this magic happen week after week. Our dedicated volunteers are all certified animal lovers who work tirelessly to make sure our passengers all arrive safely to start their new lives. But let´s be honest here, we all do it for that special brand of unconditional love and puppy/dog kisses that only a rescue dog can give! In 2014 Mobile Mutts were thrilled to expand operations to include a "rescue/adoption" program!

Marion Stevens

Marion Stevens, President, Transport Coordinator - I rescued my first abused, neglected dog from a 6' chain that weighed more than she did, using bolt cutters and a piece of bologna at age 17. Challenged by my Dad who told me "Somebody needs to do Something for these dogs. You are Somebody; So Do Something"; 40 Years later I am still trying to "do something" to help them, often missing Sunday dinners and family events in the process. It´s been a long road and a lot rescues since that first rescue in Southern Ontario so many years ago. The internet has proven to be the "rescuers best friend" as it enables us to network faster and more efficiently saving more unwanted dogs then we ever dreamed possible. I began coordinating Mobile Mutts in 2012 after a long association with them as a volunteer driver and overnighter. I am thrilled with the progress we have made over a short time, and proud of our fabulous volunteers who give so much every week to save "my dogs". In my other world, I work full time as a medical secretary at Carle in Champaign, IL. None of what I do would be possible without the love and support of my husband Earl, who also volunteers as a coordinator for Mobile Mutts. We are blessed to share our lives with our own group of rescue dogs: Hank, Baxter and CJ (Claire Jr., The eldest of Claire's Angels aka: the GOAT) , Maggie who isn’t a rescue dog, but we love her nonetheless, Nora Jean, our effervescent (former) Mill dog, a kooky little Min Pin named Minnie and George our resident cat.

Earl Stevens

Earl Stevens, Coordinator and Photographer - I still have pictures from long ago of Heidi, a German Shepard/Collie mix, that my parents brought home. She was the best family dog ever. She would play and let all of us climb all over her and just love every minute we spent with her. Take her out front or go for a walk and she was friends with everyone, but don’t come into the backyard without one of us with you. She was protective of that yard, a little too protective. And there came a time when she was moved to a farm, at least we could visit her now and then. That was in the early 60’s and here I am today. Along the way there were many other "rescues" like Mr. Fuji, the Siamese cat born with a crooked tail, he couldn’t be sold, so we got him! We always seemed to have a dog or a cat that someone didn´t want. That was then, this is now and things haven’t changed. There is always a Heidi or a Mr. Fuji out there. Unlike years ago when it was "Hey you want a dog?", I am able to be part a of wonderful group that is saving dogs week after week. I think you are either in or out when it comes to rescue, it´s something that is always there and sticks with you. One great benefit for me has been ability to combine rescue and photography. Again as a youngster I had my little Kodak 110 on vacation, taking pictures along the way. And now each week I try to capture the joy and happiness in the faces of those we save. It hasn’t been easy to look through the lens at the sorrow in their eyes and find the glimmer of hope they are feeling. You take the good with the bad, it´s part of what we do and I wouldn´t change a thing.

Kate Handwerk

Kate Handwerk - Georgia Intake and Volunteer Coordinator - I have always loved animals and we have always had rescued cats and dogs as a part of our family. When I was about 18, I discovered rescue transports! How exciting - to help dogs (and cats) get to thier forever homes! My family and I started driving transports several times a month for years. Our most exciting transport would have to be one we did for 2 very large, very grumpy, female potbellied pigs. lol. Now that was an adventure! Another time, we transported a group of ferrets. But most of our transports were for dogs and puppies and we loved every chance to help an animal. :) Somewhere along the way, I started volunteering for my local no-kill shelter and then for the local animal control group. Our available time to transport became less and less, but we still wanted to help as many dogs and cats and possible get to thier forever homes and rescues. Last year, I saw a post asking for people willing to be trained to coordinate transports for Okefenokee Humane Society in Waycross, GA and jumped at the chance. :) I was trained by Laura and started coordinating transports for Okefenokee and then for Terrell County Animal Control/Paws for Hope and Faith. During that time, I began to work with Lynn and then the Amazing Marion from Mobile Mutts for some of the midwest transports and not long ago Marion asked me if I would be willing to help out as thier GA Coordinator. How could I say no - We have such a need in GA to get dogs out of our shelters and into homes and rescues where they can find forever homes. I am so excited to be a part of this amazing group!

Kathy Kissane-Knapik

Kathy Kissane-Knapik, Illinois Volunteer Coordinator - While I have always loved animals, it was when my son brought home a pit bull puppy that got me involved in animal rescue. I saw all the abuse and discrimination that these dogs were subjected to and tried very hard to change it. Through this I met someone that needed to get one dog from Virginia to Montana to go to his new home. I drove one leg and was hooked! I looked around at different transporters and started driving for Mobile Mutts a little over a year ago. To me, they are the best ... dedicated and they all truly love the dogs. While we may all be volunteers, we are paid with many doggy kisses. I actually have a "real" job as a Manager for a marketing company but it is the "free" job that gives me the most satisfaction.

Julie Wickstrom

Julie Wickstrom, Wisconsin and Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator - On a bitterly cold winter night in early December 2012, my good friend Kris Trotto invited me to go along on a transport. Did I mention it was a bitterly cold night? Well, even so and just like the others here, I got hooked and shortly after that started volunteering with Mobile Mutts. I have met some really great people and had way more fun than I thought was legal. In 2013, I wanted to see what more I could do to help and talked to Marion about becoming a Coordinator. This is an awesome group of people to work with and such an important cause in which to be involved. Although I grew up in northern Minnesota, I now live in Fridley which is a northern suburb of Minneapolis. My foster failure Collie/Shep mix named Jack Benny (who came to Minnesota that first bitterly cold night!), transport failure setter mix Ginger (Rogers) and two cats named George Burns and Gracie Allen share THEIR house with me. I also have an adult daughter Kellie who helps with transport now and then even though she lives 150 miles away! Currently I’m occasionally fostering with Heading Home K9 Rescue and also am Transport Coordinator with NorthStar Great Pyrenees Rescue of Minnesota. Here’s my challenge to anyone reading this. If you can't adopt, then foster. If you can't foster, then sponsor. If you can't sponsor, then volunteer. If you can't volunteer, then donate, or transport an animal to safety. If you can't donate or transport, then educate, network, and crosspost. Everyone can do something, large or small, to help save a life! Live, Love, Rescue, Repeat!

Sally Denhart
Sally Denhart, Fundraising and Special Events Coordinator

I never knew my first dog but I heard stories about him. His name was Mike and he was a gentle Cocker Spaniel mix. One of the stories my mom told me was when I was a little over a year old and learning to walk. Mom left me sitting on a blanket with Mike in the front yard while she ran in to answer the phone. (People did that in those days. She was watching me through the front window.) While she was talking on the phone I decided to get up and walk. I headed for the street with Mike trailing behind me. He let me go until I crossed the sidewalk close to the street, then he got in front of me and knocked me on my butt as Mom came running out the door! There were no cars coming by but I still know that Mike saved me that day. When I transport I’m paying Mike back a little. I’ve rescued 12 dogs since then and donated when I could but didn’t have much time for volunteering. Then came Facebook and retirement and I started seeing pleas for help with transporting dogs. My first transport was from a pound to Homeward Bound in Decatur. For my second transport I brought a dog back to Champaign and met Mobile Mutter Kathy Miller. Although this transport was for another group she told me about Mobile Mutts and how they always need volunteers so I signed up and love it! I volunteered to be the Fundraising and Special Events Coordinator because I believe that fundraising and publicity are important to any volunteer group for it to survive and I want Mobile Mutts to survive until the day our services are no longer needed. I hope to see that day!

Conny Hasty

Conny Hasty, Volunteer Coordinator - Hey everyone! I am 51 and a mother of two 2-legged kids and 3-four legged kids. I am grandma to 3 4-legged cats. In my earlier years, I grew up on a farm in Central Illinois. We always had dogs and cats growing up. I first learned about Mobile Mutts from my great niece. She was going to school at Parkland and I kept seeing these pictures of dogs on her Facebook. So, I asked her what was up with this and the next thing I know I am sending an email and signing up to overnight. Soon, I was overnighting 2-3 fur kids every weekend. Then when we were short drivers, I would also drive. I have helped with Hounds and Sounds last year and Yappy Hour this year. I also help line up overnighter’s in Champaign. I call new volunteers and answer any questions that they may have prior to the weekend. I got to go down to Louisville with Marion, Laurie and my Husband, Mike (Bubba). Marion pulled Jonas out of Louisville Metro and my husband and I agreed to long term foster him. Well, I had foster failure. I really think my husband had foster failure and well, you know the rest. My husband and I adopted Jonas. I also do home checks and help fosters/adopters fill out paper work for our rescue dogs. I have two other dogs, a wired hair Terrier who was living with a foster in Champaign. Molly was brought up from Tennessee. Her first owner was killed in a car accident. Her friend was part of a boxer rescue and took Molly in. My other dog is a three legged Beagle named Scarla. She was an owner surrender dog. And recently, my son decided that he was going to rescue the neighbor’s cat, George. See, his owners moved away and left him behind. The other two cats, Marty and Jack Daniel’s are my daughter’s cats. When I was growing up, I was taught that some dogs are meaner than others. It was the breed of dog. After being with Mobile Mutts, I know it’s not the breed of dog, but how that dog was raised. I never in a million years thought I would have a Pittie in my home. Today, I would not trade Jonas for the world or any other of my animals.

Beth Alvis

Beth Alvis, Volunteer Coordinator - I started rescuing in 2005 when my husband and I decided to give other dogs a loving home like we had given our own. We felt that all dogs deserved the love and attention that our own were receiving. Jim and I were working a Pet Fair representing another rescue when I met a volunteer with Mobile Mutts. She promptly told me about the organization. Approximately 2 weeks later, my husband and I did our first transport from Covington to Champaign for Mobile Mutts. Two years later I am still volunteering for Mobile Mutts. I have met the most amazing people, and dogs. I still believe that all dogs deserve a loving home to call their own. The best decision I ever made was getting involved with rescue and Mobile Mutts. No rewards are great than receiving a kiss from a dog who was so close to being euthanized. They are so grateful.

Sarah Sherwood

Sarah Sherwood, Monitor/Volunteer Coordinator I first learned of Mobile Mutts Rescue Transports in 2015. I had just moved from Georgia to Wisconsin and was looking for ways to help animals, since I wasn’t in a position to foster. That was seven years ago! I spent a few years driving for MMRT. And then when I relocated to Missouri, I continued to be involved as the monitor coordinator and helped organize runs. We started trying to move dogs from full shelters down in the Missouri area, and had some success with relieving local shelters. I reside in Florida now, and still help with monitoring transports and orchestrating things. As an owner to five rescue animals, I can easily say that rescue is the most beautiful and rewarding experience. I often wonder, “who rescued who?”. We all have the chance to change the world, even if it’s just a little at a time. What I love about rescue transport is the connections we get to make- new people, new dogs, new experiences. Something quite unlike anything we’d expect, but ALWAYS worth it. It’s the little things that make the world a better place. A more compassionate and welcoming place. And each weekend, we get to make the world a little better. We get to change the lives of animals who would otherwise perish. We get to change the lives of the families who adopt them and help expand their world. Rescue isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life. We’re furever in the business of facilitating happy endings.

Patty Petry

Patty Petry, Webmaster - In my early 20s I began volunteering with a rescue group named Adopt A Pet. I started as the "cat coordinator" and ended up as the President. My duties included lots of grassroots organizing, cleaning cat kennels, approving adoptions, working booths at events, doing television commercials, giving a speech to the Vet Tech club at our local college, and much, much, much more! I had a short break and then began more grassroots organizing, this time with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in my town. I developed and maintained their website, did a lot of fundraising, became a foster home, and again more, more, more grassroots work. After a short break I was at it again, using Facebook to network dogs from southern Georgia´s Okefenokee Humane Society (who I had run across while keeping in touch with ND and MN rescues via facebook). While networking for Okefenokee I was able to work with Mobile Mutts. Networking dogs from kill shelters is stressful and difficult on a daily basis! In the spring of 2013 I decided to be a little better to me, and move to something that wasn't so emotionally draining and heartbreaking. I decided to see if I could help Mobile Mutts! My love of animals has been combined with volunteer work helping them, for the majority of my life (over 30 years and counting!) and I believe it will continue until I am no longer able. I wasn´t born a fighter and a volunteer, I became one, and I know I have made a difference in this world, there are hundreds of dogs and cats over the years that would vouch for that.