Driver Interview: Deanna & Todd Lillard Offer Measured Approach to Pet Transport

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated: September 25, 2023 / Published: April 16, 2015
Black car, dog.

When it’s time to pick up a pet for delivery, Deanna and Todd Lillard don’t rush things. First, they get to know the owner. Then they get to know the animal. Only after they’re acquainted with both do the Lillards, owners of Beeline Pet Transport, hit the road.

According to Deanna Lillard, this personal connection at the start of the delivery is the beginning of a relationship founded on trust.

“When clients are comfortable with us, everything flows from there,” she said. “They have a need for our service and the way we approach the job gives people the confidence to transport their pets.”

“And this is true for everyone. People know we respect them and their pet; we take it seriously.”

Deanna’s thoughtful approach to online pet shipping starts long before she collects the animal from the owner. She familiarizes herself with various breeds of cats and dogs to determine what kind of trip is expected.

“We research breeds to determine exercise times and how often they should be walked,” Deanna said. “An active dog like a Jack Russell Terrier needs to be let out every two hours, where a more mellow dog like a Golden Retriever only needs it every three or so hours.”

“We also send clients an intake form that allows us to ask particular questions and learn about the pet’s tendencies. That has proven to be a very important tool, and our customers have become grateful for it.”

As they travel toward the destination, the Lillards and their precious cargo make what most pet drivers consider unorthodox pit stops.

“We walk and play with them, but then we give them time to themselves, a patient, quiet time,” Deanna said. “After a while, a lot of pets are ready to go and just get right back in the crate, like they are saying ‘It’s time to hit the road.’”

Just as they are able to soothe the pets during the journey, they also put the owners at ease by sending real-time cell phone pictures, and sometimes a bit more, she said.

“If a dog is a real barker, or a cat loves to meow, we’ll send an audio message to his family and let them hear their pet talk to them.”

Today’s technology also affords the Lillards, who are based in Greater Denver, Co., access to a vast client base “where no one is excluded,” according to Deanna.

“We’ve delivered pets to clients that live in mansions, to Katrina-affected areas, and to people who only had the funds to pay us for the trip,” she said. “Finding jobs like these, from all walks of life, was impossible 15 years ago. It seems the Internet has become the great equalizer.”

Initially private Estate Managers, the Lillards began working in online pet shipping when they answered a craigslist ad to deliver a dog from Vermont to Reno, NV. That experience inspired what became Beeline Pet Transport.

“Although we thought that trip was a great way for us to see the country, we ended up spending a lot of time on the dog instead of the scenery. That was when we really wondered about the need for pet transport, and we began to dream of Beeline,” said Deanna.

Since then, the Lillards have used a well-known online shipping company featured on television but have found that CitizenShipper offers drivers and customers an intimate marketplace.

“CitizenShipper feels less industrial and more private, which we really like,” said Deanna. “It allows us to ask a potential client a personal question and offers a great beginning to how we do business.”

“We are not a moving company, and we deal with living beings. We only transport pets and don’t do it for gas money. We’re running a business, which means we take pet safety and comfort very seriously, and we want potential clients to know we‘ll get their pet from pickup to destination efficiently. By team driving, we are continuously on the road and ensure the pet will be delivered as soon as possible.

“What we appreciate most is someone entrusting an important member of their family to our care – and it’s great to know we can accommodate their expectations.”