Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride
Freedom Ride
These dog collars buy a last-chance shelter dog transport to a new life

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In 2018 Christian Marcello graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto, only to realize he had “zero passion” for Chemical Engineering. “It was as exciting as it sounds,” he says. 

Instead of jumping straight into a career in his field, he decided he’d take a bit of time, follow his heart, and try different things—things he was actually interested in.

In the pursuit of exploring his passions, he joined a network of volunteer rescue-animal transporters. Using his mom’s minivan, he helped drive pets from high-kill shelters in Montreal to rescues in Ontario, volunteering his time and gas.

He loved how rescue transportation was able to take a pet stuck in an awful situation and open up a world of possibilities for that pet. The challenge was that rescue transportation proved an expensive way to volunteer, not to mention the miles on his mom’s minivan. In order to help a lot more pets, there would need to be a way to sustain filling up the gas tank.

“My idea was to sell pet products that give back in the form of rescue transportation, something that was super effective at helping pets in immediate need of help,’ he says. 

He decided on collars, the sale of which would allow for the transport of one pet on one leg of their journey to a new life. And everyone who bought a collar would receive a video of the pet they helped transport. Team Plover, so named for the team effort it takes to transport rescue animals, was born. 

Christian first sold his collars—or rather, the idea of them—at a pop-up market. Technically he didn't have any collars yet. “On market day, I set up a booth with two pieces of fabric on the table that I got from a local fabric store, and I told people about my idea,” he says. “I told them that if they pre-ordered a collar I'd transport one pet in need on one leg of their freedom ride and provide them with a short video of the pet they helped through their purchase.”
 


Team Plover founder Christian Marcello with his best friend, his rescue dog Rocky. 
 

He walked away with a handful of pre-orders and the validation he needed that the idea could work. “I ended up following through on my decision to ‘throw my degree away’ and follow my heart,” he says. 

Team Plover has already expanded to include a new initiative around spay and neuter, tackling overpopulation at its source. “If we focus on spay and neuter as well, eventually we can change the landscape,” he notes. Further goals include building his own fleet to cover areas where there currently are not any rescue transport groups, but his ultimate goal is far loftier:

“My ultimate goal for Team Plover is become to obsolete. I love Team Plover, and what we do but I wish there wasn't a need for our mission.”

To purchase a collar and help transport a desperate dog on a leg of their journey, go to teamplover.com and teamplover.ca. Collars are $44.

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