The road to a new life is almost over for 25 dogs arriving in B.C. from high-kill U.S. shelters, but the journey for the Vancouver-based rescue group importing the dogs has just begun.

The pooches were due to arrive in B.C. several weeks ago, but their journey from California was derailed after the van they were supposed to be transported in crashed before picking them up.

With all the dogs facing imminent death, a volunteer from Big & Small Rescue made the two-day journey to Riverside, California to collect the death row dogs over the Labour Day long weekend.

Robert Prior said if the dogs weren’t taken out of the shelter they’d be put down within two days because of animal shelter policy.

“The dogs we rescue... will have fabulous lives now,” he told CTV News as the dogs were being unloaded and given to their foster families in Kitsilano Thursday night.

The rescue group relies on a network of 40 fosters that take in the dogs while they’re awaiting adoption in B.C.

Normally, a third-party transportation company is contracted to transport the dogs to B.C., but it’s a practice the group would like to part with following the crash.

Big & Small has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise the $20,000 to purchase a reliable used van so its volunteers can start making the monthly trip to California themselves.

“It would be a big step to save more animals, said volunteer Michelle Hutchinson.

Right now the group pays the transportation firm approximately $100 to bring each dog to Canada, but the rescue said that cost could be avoided if they had their own carrier van.

It would also make the journey more comfortable for the four-legged travelers.

Hutchinson said unlike the transportation firm, its volunteer driver stopped regularly so the dogs could eat and socialize, including two hours of playtime at an Oregon park.

“He took them on a little hike, he stopped frequently… that normally doesn’t happen,” she said.

Big & Small Rescue has rescued more than 1,000 dogs from high-kill shelters and remote and northern communities since 2012.

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