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NewsTrucking

Mutts4Trucks seeks to pair truckers with dogs looking for homes

Just 25% of men and 20% of women truck drivers exercise at least 30 minutes a day five times a week. Truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese compared to the average U.S. worker, and suffer from conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and sleep apnea at rates much higher than the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That doesn’t even take into account the loneliness that truck drivers face on the road, living a life of relative solitude, away from families for days or weeks at a time, all of which contribute negatively to overall health.

It’s not a life for everyone, but most reading this article already understand these facts.

Dogs are said to be man’s best friend. Make a friend with a dog, and you will have companionship for years. But there are an estimated 3.3 million dogs living in shelters, unable to find forever homes, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

There would seem to be symbiotic relationship between dogs and truck drivers – each looking for companionship, and each able to benefit from that relationship. That is what brought Mobil Delvac and Pedigree dog food together to find ways to pair dogs looking for homes with drivers looking for road companions.

Mutts4Trucks held its first adoption event at the end of September at the Nashville TravelCenters of America location. The drivers had a chance to play with and bond with the animals ( below) before deciding whether to adopt them. Above, Werner driver Amber Carlton-Wise was one of the drivers to adopt a dog. “I’m lonely, sometimes I get bored, or when I go home on home-time, I don’t know what to do because I’m so used to trucking now,” she said. “So, I said I have all this time and I got love – everyone’s got love to give – so I’ll use that love for a pup,” she said. (Photos: Amy Handegard)

“Mobil Delvac cares deeply about the trucking industry and we are committed to making a positive impact on truckers’ well-being,” Leah Ritter, brand advisor for Mobil Delvac, told FreightWaves. “We wanted to bring awareness for what truckers do for the United States day in and day out. And by having a dog, we have found… an increase in their happiness, we’ve found an increase in their activity and so we want to be a force for their well-being.”

Mobil and Pedigree created Mutts4Trucks, an effort to hold adoption events aimed specifically at attracting and pairing truck drivers to shelter dogs across the country. The first event was held in late September at TravelCenters of America’s Nashville, Tennessee, location. It featured an appearance by Grammy-nominated country music star Cassadee Pope. The animals adopted were from the Nashville Humane Society.

Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN) truck driver Amber Carlton-Wise adopted an animal at the event.

“I’m lonely, sometimes I get bored, or when I go home on home-time, I don’t know what to do because I’m so used to trucking now,” she said. “So, I said I have all this time and I got love – everyone’s got love to give – so I’ll use that love for a pup.”

Mutts4Trucks held its first adoption event at the end of September at the Nashville TravelCenters of America location. The drivers had a chance to play with and bond with the animals before deciding whether to adopt them. (Photos: Amy Handegard)

The CDC says that pet ownership can lead to decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in their human companions. Many pet owners also have fewer moments of loneliness and increased activity levels. A 2017 study of Swedish pet owners published in Scientific Reports found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than those without a dog. In fact, many of the top health factors leading to earlier deaths were lower in dog owners, the study found, even when factors such as smoking or obesity were included. Those living alone with a dog had a 33% reduced risk of death.

Dog ownership leads to increased activity, said veterinarian and senior author of the report Tove Fall. She told Time that dogs provide other benefits as well. “I have met numerous owners that are convinced that their pet has been instrumental for them, often in terms of social support. As a dog owner, I also notice that the people I meet during walks are often other dog owners, especially in bad weather.”

Mars Petcare and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) released a study earlier this year that found 80% of pet owners say their pets make them feel less lonely and 85% of both pet owners and non-pet owners believe companion animals help reduce loneliness and 76% say they help address social isolation.

For truck drivers, many of whom feel isolated on the road, pet ownership offers an outlet to overcome these problems, reduce their sense of loneliness and improve their health.

“We know dogs have mood-boosting effects on the people whose lives they touch, and we also know that life on the road for a trucker can be lonely. The Mutts4Trucks program benefits both dog and driver, because it brings a forever home to dogs in need, while providing truckers with a furry friend for the road.”

Elizabeth Barrett, Pedigree brand manager

“We know dogs have mood-boosting effects on the people whose lives they touch, and we also know that life on the road for a trucker can be lonely,” Elizabeth Barrett, Pedigree brand manager, said. “The Mutts4Trucks program benefits both dog and driver, because it brings a forever home to dogs in need, while providing truckers with a furry friend for the road.”

One existing problem is that many companies have policies forbidding animals in their cabs, Ritter said. Mobil and Pedigree will collect data on the drivers that adopt the animals so they can quantify the health benefits of having a dog in the cab, hoping the data will ultimately sway companies to reverse policies.

“The next phase of this is to continue with these types of events… and start working with our fleets,” Ritter said. “Fleet companies have certain policies that say no dogs in the cab, so we want to work with them to show them the data we’re collecting that truckers are happier when they have a companion.”

Happier truck drivers tend to be more loyal to their fleets and healthier overall, experts said.

No new events are scheduled at this time, but Ritter said Mutts4Trucks is working with TravelCenters and in talks with Walmart about leveraging some of their locations for future events, with several adoptions taking place in 2020.

Even if a driver is not a full-time dog owner, Mutts4Trucks is looking to see if they can help relocate animals for adoption.

“We’re going to be looking for ways to leverage truckers who don’t want the full responsibility of taking care of a dog to help get dogs to where there is demand,” she said.

For Mobil, the end goal is improving drivers’ lives and raising awareness of the role truck drivers play in the American economy.

“I don’t think people appreciate when they go to a restaurant that the food was brought by a trucker, or when they go to the hospital, the medicine was brought by a trucker,” Ritter said. “We don’t want them to have a negative impression of truckers because they do so much [for Americans].”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.

7 Comments

  1. Great article. I wish y’all would talk to the leadership folks at Schneider National. I can’t afford to be an independent contractor who can have pets and company drivers aren’t allowed to have them. I would love my job so much more if I could have a dog for company on the road. It would be good for Schneider too for driver retention.

  2. This is a fantastic idea!! I know my dogs have always provided that companionship to keep my moods and spirt level. I hope This plan works out and trucking companies begin to accept pets in the cabs with the drivers. There are all kinds of great ways to secure the dogs default in the cab using the existing seatbelt.

  3. A Dog in a long haul truck driver’s life” makes it a life! A Dog” is a 4-ever” friend! 👍🤗👍

  4. I can come up with better reasons not to have animails in a truck that does not belong to you>it’s why you call yourself driver< and not TRUCKER..Truckers know that distractions of any kind are VERY dangerous! But if you own the truck and pay your own insurance have at it. Just remember it gives Lawyers another way of making your Insurance company pay off and
    maybe you too! Hope you think on this before you act. 50 years of trucking in different positions and I'm still learning. And being not much than a kid the old timers would say don't jump out of that truck boy, never leave the hard top and just when you think you have master trucking watch out for the curve.

    thanks for reading

    1. Well that’s great on your thoughts. My thoughts are after 50years your not retired! Hate to be in trucking that long…2 years of driving owed my own truck in full. Have a dog that is trained and adds to keeping you human! But hey, what do drivers know. We sit in a truck all day pay Bill’s and not enjoy life. While now a day you can the same amount of money if not more working a 9 to 5. Instead of worrying about insurance and distractions I would worry about money, retirement, and living a healthy and enjoyable life. Just my thoughts

  5. I don’t know when I was a O/O I had a German Shepard riding with me and I loved it, I wasn’t lonely, it got me out of the truck more for exercise, which as drivers we all need, when I was out of the truck other drivers would get out of their truck to play with her, and talk, even though it was sometimes she was a pain I wouldn’t give her up for anything, also which was the biggest thing was she would protect my truck and me!

  6. Well people would be better off with cats, you don’t have to stop for them to use the bathroom, and none of the drivers with dogs don’t clean up the shit their dogs leave;and that is a fact you can’t deny,,I have been driving over 9 years and not once did I ever see a driver clean up after their pet!!!!!!

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