Rescue transports are human chains on wheels that can stretch hundreds or even a thousand miles or more. They whisk dogs from high kill animal shelters, often in the South, to safe havens in the more affluent Northeast. Almost all come through Pennsylvania, by the dozens every weekend.

On Saturday an unidentified transport driver was busted by the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement in Delaware County and charged with "selling dogs in a public place" - a violation of the state dog law. The 16 dogs were surrendered by the driver and sent to the Pennsylvania SPCA - which had just closed its animal intake facility and was desperately trying to reduce the number of its dogs, crowded into a garage, with a discount adoption event.

Now rescue operators and drivers are asking why they are being targeted by the state for trying to save lives.

PSPCA spokeswoman Liz Williamson says humane officers were called by dog law to meet them at a location on the 2300 block of Market St. in Marcus Hook at 11:30 p.m.

The dogs, including Lab mixes and hounds, among other breeds, were adults or young adults. The dogs were brought to the PSPCA and received medical evaluations. The dogs are still in the PSPCA custody and will be available for adoption or placement with an approved rescue organization. There were no cruelty charges filed, Williamson said.

On board the transport was a Husky named Luna who had been surrendered to a Florida-based rescue and was being shipping to a young volunteer for the rescue now living in Pennsylvania.

Gisele Veilleux, operator of The Dog Liberator, which pulls dogs from high kill shelters and shelters that gas dogs in the South, said her volunteer had to spend hours proving to the PSPCA that the dog was hers and that it had proper paperwork.

Veilleux says she is confused. She wants to continue to send dogs through Pennsylvania and wants to comply with the law. But doesn't know how.

The bureau says the transporter violated dog law by selling a dog in a public place. So does that mean adopting a dog in a public place - where no money is exchanged, is illegal? What if a dog is simply being handed off to another transporter and the dog going to a location outside of the state?

If all so-called "transfers" of dogs are vulnerable to a BDLE sting - on a weekend, when dog wardens were working on state overtime no less - it would have a chilling effect on the network of hundreds of people who volunteer to help needy dogs and cats by chauffeuring them from certain death to safety through Pennsylvania every week.

The issue cries out for clarity - and some say, a little empathy - from the state.