SPRING HILL, Kan. — Animal-rescue organizations in the Kansas City metro are mourning the death of a man who ran a pet taxi service locally but traveled around the country to help rescue creatures of all kinds.
In 2019, David Hosch started a pet taxi service dubbed Sunflower Animal Transport. He did most of the vet runs for animals at the Always & Furever Midwest Animal Sanctuary in Spring Hill.
"He went thousands of extra miles for us," said Judy Katterhenrich, a volunteer who coordinates animal transport at Always & Furever. "So when a dog is adopted out of state and needs transport, that's who takes him and sometimes he will do it at a moment's notice."
On Monday, he was taking Annabelle, one of the dogs from sanctuary who was staying with a foster family, to a vet clinic in Lawrence when his van collided with a semi on U.S. 56 Highway.
"We became worried when he had picked up Annabelle, but hadn't ever arrived at the vet," Katterhenrich said.
Hosch, 39, and the dog died in the wreck.
Hosch's death "made the rescue world dim a little," according to Shannon Smith, with the Kansas City English Bulldog Rescue.
"He was a very big, shining light in all of our lives and the lives of the animals that he saved," Smith said.
Smith met Hosch in 2019 when the group needed to transport an English Bulldog from the Humane Society in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"To go to South Dakota, you know, it's December, that can't be the warmest drive in the world," Smith said. "And he said, 'Absolutely, let's do this.'"
Since then, Hosch helped transport and rescue 19 bulldogs.
"David welcomed them into his van and showered them with love and affection and promised them they were on their way to their best life ever," Smith said. "And he was the person to get them there and he did it time and time again."
It's that kind of passion that makes this loss so profound for animal groups across the metro, each one now planning to dedicate and remember Hosch in their own way.
Smith said the Kansas City English Bulldog rescue plans to create an art installation in honor of Hosch at Kennedy’s Animal Clinic in Raytown.
Always & Furever plans to dedicate a wing at the Osawatomie Pound that they're renovating to Hosch.
"We like to think that we can focus on what he brought to us and to the animals," Katterhenrich said.
With Hosch's passing, Always & Furever needs volunteers to help transport animals. For more information, visit the group's website or Facebook page.