7-year-old 'dog whisperer' continues mission to find homes for rescue animals

AUGUSTA, Ga. — While others people are still formulating their New Year's resolutions, 7-year-old Roman McConn is sticking with a plan that hasn't failed him -- or his four-legged friends -- since 2016: to continue finding loving homes for dogs in need.

Roman of Augusta, Georgia, and his mother, Jennifer McConn, started Project Freedom Ride in December 2016 to find homes in the Pacific Northwest for dogs (and a few cats) in danger of being euthanized at high-kill shelters in Texas.

Over the past three years, Project Freedom Ride said it has saved nearly 1,400 dogs and found them all new families.

Roman and his mother also help transport the animals.

"The only way I can describe Project Freedom Ride is we are a community," Jennifer McConn wrote on the organization's Facebook page. "We partner with amazing Texas Rescues who help by pulling dogs from high-kill shelters or taking in strays and otherwise unwanted dogs prior to them entering such shelters and caring for them through their programs (vetting, fostering, etc) while we look for adopters and / or receiving partners in the Pacific Northwest to take them in."

"The whole process from saving a dog to transporting out of Texas takes roughly 4 weeks depending on the dog's health and temperament," McConn added. McConn said their efforts began when Roman saw rescue dogs, and couldn't understand why they had no homes.


She said that since he was 4 years old, Roman has helped by making videos, introducing the rescue dogs to potential owners and urging people to adopt them. McConn posts videos to social media so they can be shared.

Project Freedom Ride has grown as the family has moved from Texas to Washington state, and now Georgia.

"My hopes for 2019 are, since we're transporting from Georgia and Texas, to get as many dogs adopted as we can. And, to help rescue dogs 'cause I think they deserve more than a life in a kennel," Roman told ABC News Thursday.

Roman, who has three dogs himself -- Luna, Ru and Zion -- was awarded the ASPCA's 2018 "Kid of the Year" award in November of 2018.

"I don't think dogs should just be in a shelter," he said in an ASPCA video posted to YouTube.

Every weekend for the last three years, Roman and McConn have visited local shelters to make a new video.

"He's a born dog whisperer," Crystal Eskola of Augusta Animal Services told the ASPCA in its video.

She added that every dog that Roman made a video with had been adopted, and added that he worked with dogs that were hard to place, spending time with them and showing the friendly and fun side of them.

"He's the life blood of Project Freedom Ride," his mother said.