Meet the 7-Year-Old Boy Who Has Rescued More Than 1,000 Dogs From Kill Shelters

Project Freedom Ride connects unwanted and abandoned dogs with loving families.

Roman McConn may only be 7 years old, but he’s a pretty big deal in the dog world, rescuing more than 1,000 canines from kill shelters.

The idea first came to him when he was barely 4, his mom, Jennifer McConn, told "Roman opted to forgo birthday gifts on his fourth birthday and get money to help a rescue that he had seen on a pretty regular basis," she said.

Roman and his mom were first exposed to kill shelters in July 2015, when they adopted a dog from one.

"I was sunk," said McConn, 36. "I became heavily involved with volunteering at the local shelter, with Roman’s help in making videos to help network the dogs."

After relocating to Washington state, McConn said she joked about creating an underground railroad to transport rescue dogs from Texas to the Pacific Northwest.

“The world for a dog, generally speaking, was so much better up here in Washington than down there in Texas,” she said.

What started as a joke turned into what is now Project Freedom Ride, a program that connects unwanted and abandoned dogs, which may have otherwise been bound for euthanasia, with loving families.

In December 2016, Roman and his mom completed their first transport of 31 dogs from Texas to Washington. Since then, they have rescued pups at a rate of more than 50 a month.

McConn said the most rewarding part of their efforts is witnessing the connection between the dogs and their new families after the 2,000 mile journey north.

“They develop this bond and this love for a dog they’ve never even met and then when they have that moment where everything comes together, it’s very overwhelming for some of them," said McConn.

She recalled how one woman was overcome with emotion when she finally met her new puppy.

"It was so cute because in talking to her, it was like a kid at Christmas," she said. "The anticipation. She was so excited. And then when she finally got him, she was just crying because she was so happy to finally have him."

For Roman, it’s all about finding “forever homes” for the dogs.

“It makes me feel happy saving all these dogs," he said. "But it doesn’t just make me happy, I’m sure it makes all the dogs happy."

The dogs aren’t the only lucky ones.

“It’s funny because we get a lot of feedback from people that are like, 'He must have great parents,'” she said. “We just got lucky. It’s been super rewarding to have that little person be your child."

And though the family recently moved to Augusta, Georgia, their mission continues. Read more about it here.