Meet the Six-Year-Old Who’s Saving Shelter Dogs
You might recognize him from the viral videos on The Dodo.
I scroll Facebook videos often and about 6 months ago, I came across this video. I watched in awe and through tears at this sweet boy who has such a passion for helping animals.
His name is Roman and he helps save dogs from high kill areas. I found out that Roman and his mom, Jennifer, rescue dogs in TEXAS and knew I wanted to get the opportunity to interview them.
More recently, The Dodo shared another video of Roman. In less than a week, the video has been viewed 10 million times and has 178,000 shares.
Let’s get to know more about Roman, Jennifer and Project Freedom Ride.
When was Project Freedom Ride started? Why?
Jennifer: December 2016. We had seen overwhelming numbers of unwanted dogs when we lived in San Angelo, TX and when we moved back home to Washington in July of 2016 I would joke with the Texas rescues that the world for a dog was so different up here and we should just create an underground railroad to send them up here. Little did I know a few months later PFR would be on it’s first transport.
Tell me a bit more about what Project Freedom Ride does.
Roman: We save dogs from high kill areas 😊
Jennifer: We are the connection between unwanted Texas dogs in high kill areas and their second chance either through our receiving rescues / humane societies in the Pacific Northwest or now straight to their adopters. Transport costs are extremely high so we felt like if PFR could cover that part and the Texas rescue was able to cover the necessary vetting, we could make it work. Over 900 dogs later… it has 😊
How does it feel knowing your video(s) have gone viral?
Roman: VERY VERY VERY exciting. I think it’s pretty awesome.
How does helping dogs make you feel?
Roman: Makes me feel happy. Because I like dogs in their forever homes, in good places, where they’ll stay there forever.
How many dogs have you helped save?
Roman: Can’t count them … too many!
Jennifer: Through PFR we have saved 954. That doesn’t count any that we had a part in saving when we visit local rescues and shelters here in WA and help network dogs (such as Legend, an older yellow lab who the “shelter” claimed was deaf and was a part of Roman’s first viral video) or any of the dogs we networked or helped get adopted in San Angelo, TX when we’d visit the shelter there. We really have no idea. We’re not really counting!
Why do you focus on saving dogs from Texas? Is Texas the state with the most high-kill shelters?
Jennifer: I don’t know if it’s the state with the most high kill shelters. However, it is definitely one of the states with the highest euthanasia rate. Why TX … mainly because that’s where we lived from 2013 – 2016 so that’s where we became exposed to the pet overpopulation problem. You could say it’s kind of where our heart is. It’s where we started volunteering with rescues as well as the local high kill shelter.
Do you have a most memorable dog that you’ve helped save? What’s his name? Breed? What was he like?
Roman: Sullivan. Sullivan was a VERY large American Bulldog (another dog featured in his first viral video). He was 8 yrs old I think and had medical issues. He was also dog aggressive.
(However, Roman does not know that Sullivan was actually put down. The Humane Society apparently spent weeks working to get this specific adopter on board and when she finally took him to her house something apparently happened. They won’t give us any details. He was brought back to the humane society and put down the next day. We didn’t find out for weeks when I asked about an update that this had happened. I don’t have the heart to tell Roman. This info has been shared publicly just not with Roman.)
Do the people that rescue the dogs you help save stay in contact with you?
Jennifer: Sometimes. Never as much as we would like but we’re always thankful for what we get.
What’s the biggest struggle with operating something like this?
Jennifer: Rescue is hard. ANYONE who has any involvement with rescue knows there is so much drama involved. It is really hard to steer clear of it and can become very trying at times. My issue is also time. I work full time and am a single parent right now while Roman’s dad / my husband serves overseas. Roman also does sports etc … and I’m really the only one on this end pulling all the pieces together to make it happen. I need longer days for sure and maybe a good shrink at times (hahahaha).
How can people in Dallas help? How can anybody help?
Roman: By giving us donations because we need them right now REALLY bad!
Jennifer: Our struggle has always been funding. Our transport costs just went up to over $11,000 per transport (69 dogs). That is a TON of money for me to personally try and raise. All of our support thus far minus one corporate donation of $5,000 has come from our private / individual donors. Without them being amazing we would not be saving dogs. Donations by far is what we need…constantly.
I was so happy to get the opportunity to interview Roman and Jennifer! They’re creating such an impact and how lucky am I for being able to learn a little bit more about Project Freedom Ride. If you want to donate, you can do that here.