Labor of Love: This RVer Turned a Decrepit Motorhome into a Dog Rescue Vehicle

The project took more time than expected, but the outcome was worth the effort.

Image Caption: Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

Over three million dogs end up in shelters across America every year. But how do they get there?

Often, volunteers pick up animals in their own vehicles or a van run by a shelter organization.

RV renovator Alice Zealy of Rain2shine Ventures saw what these different transport vehicles looked like from her experience fostering dogs. She knew what was lacking and what was needed. Most of all, she knew that when it came to animal rescue “always expect the unexpected — sick dogs, dogs going into labor, and more!”

Class C Renovation

So when a client approached Alice to turn a dilapidated Class C motorhome into a rescue and treatment vehicle, she leaped at the chance. She knew that most of the existing furniture in the RV would be removed and replaced with an exam and care area, kennels, a small desk, and a fridge for medications and dog food.

“I had a clear vision in my head of not only making their rig a transport vehicle for dogs but a welcoming vessel for showcasing dogs at adoption fairs,” said Alice. “Their final request was to have calming colors throughout the RV.”

But no RV renovation is simple, and when dismantling the small motorhome, significant damage was found hiding behind the walls. Water damage destroyed the roof, walls, and floors. Most motorhomes in this state would be sent straight to the salvage yard. But Alice was determined.

dog rescue motorhome

Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

Extensive Water Damage

“The entire wall was rotten and delaminated. My hand was able to go through the interior wall and pull out saturated wood. We ended up having to remove the siding completely,” said Alice. Every piece of damaged wood and siding was removed and replaced. This involved welding new aluminum beams, installing luan siding, adding insulation, and re-installing the metal siding.

dog rescue motorhome

Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

The front window on the motorhome revealed even more water damage. These windows are notorious for leaks in Class Cs, causing rot and mold in the loft. When Alice opened it up to replace the fiberglass siding, pooled water drained out.

The water corrosion destroyed the framing, which had to be rebuilt and covered with new fiberglass filon. In building the loft, the window was not replaced to prevent future leaks.

dog rescue motorhome

Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

Building a Vision

With the integrity of the motorhome fully restored, Alice could finally execute her vision. Since everything from the original motorhome was removed, supports needed to be added to maintain the structure and foundation.

“We started by installing a new subfloor and then built new knee walls to add support to fit the design from everything we took out. The first knee wall on the driver’s side is the pull-out pantry.”

dog rescue motorhome

Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

Once supports were in place, the rest of the RV was ready to be wired for all new lights and systems, including a tankless water heater. After all of Alice’s work, it’s hard to imagine anything on the RV being original outside of the engine. Even the water tanks and light switches were replaced.

Perhaps most impressive in this renovation is Alice’s commitment to the goal. This RV could’ve been written off as too far gone after the first wall needed replacing. Instead, Alice pushed forward, committing to making this not only a working rescue vehicle but an incredibly adorable one.

dog rescue motorhome

Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

Doggie Details

No detail was spared as dog rescue-themed artwork and decoration were added throughout the rig. Alice even found towel hooks resembling dog tails and cabinet handles that mimicked dog bones. Her passion for rescuing animals in need shines through this motorhome, down to the calming shade of green (Sherwin Williams “Embellished Blue Satin) painted on the walls.

“I suggested [adding] a dog bath station that could also double as an exam/care area. Surprisingly, I found a “Pro Dog Bath” on Wayfair that would be perfect, and I ordered it right away,” Alice said of her design plans.

dog rescue motorhome

Photo Credit: Alice Zealy

This 20+-year-old motorhome ultimately became a brand-new RV. “Our client was shocked when they saw their new mobile dog rescue for the first time,” said Alice. “It had come such a long way since they originally dropped it off! They couldn’t wait to take it home and put it to good use.”

However, one thing was still missing. To safely transport dogs, kennels must be installed and anchored in the motorhome. Most of the budget for this renovation was spent bringing the RV up to code from the massive deterioration. With no money left to spend, the client chose to install the dog kennels on their own.

We love to see RVers rebuild and renovate their motorhomes and trailers into something new and beautiful, but there’s something extra sweet about Alice’s mobile dog rescue vehicle. Amid expensive setbacks, her unwavering dedication to creating a safe haven for these pups in need is the perfect example of the kindness our RV community is known for.

RV Inspiration
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