for the dogs
Al and Lynn Frischmann
by Kelly Luker
Hurricane Katrina changed countless people’s lives, mostly for the worse. But for two people, Lynn and Al Frischmann of Los Gatos, California, the experience inspired them to help save over 3,500 dogs and counting. In the six years since that tragedy, they’ve also racked up about a quarter-million miles on the road.
The couple lived in Wisconsin when Katrina hit. Lynn offered to help Animals United, one of the many rescue organizations that rushed in to evacuate animals from the hurricane-battered areas of Louisiana. The horrors she witnessed there changed her forever. “Katrina made me assess my life and what I wanted to do with it,” said Lynn. She left a career as EMT and ambulance driver to devote herself full time to transporting animals to safety. Al also threw himself into the work. A retired trucker, he was perfect for that volunteer role.
Disasters are not the only situations that require transport help. Lynn said they have deployed 16 times since Katrina to help HSUS and Animal Nation rescue dogs from not only floods and fires, but from hoarders, puppy mills, and dogfighting rings. Additionally, Al helps build temporary shelters for the animals. Victims of hoarders and dogfighting must stay somewhere until the cases are adjudicated, a legal process that could take months.
Much of the couple’s day-to-day volunteer work is heading up the Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) Lifelink Dog Transportation Program. The Program focuses on transporting dogs from overflowing shelters to rescue groups with vacancies. They once transported 93 dogs at one time up to Washington from various shelters on the Central Coast. . “The biggest challenge is finding a place to stop in order to feed, water and exercise so many animals,” Al said. For assistance, they usually coordinate with volunteers along the way. “We have to go farther and farther,” said Lynn, noting that when they started several years ago, they only had to go as far as Santa Rosa.
The biggest lesson they have learned from all those hours and miles they have devoted? “Spay and neuter is not an option ,” said Lynn. “It is the only way to solve the pet overpopulation .”
To donate to the Lifelink Program visit www.animalfriendsrescue.org.
Kelly Luker owns Little Pup Lodge, a cage-free boarding facility designed exclusively for small dogs. She has written for Runner's World, Salon.com and various alternative weeklies.