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Frequently Asked Questions

What is your mission?

Dog Is My CoPilot transports at-risk animals from overcrowded shelters to adoption centers in other geographic regions where loving families are waiting to adopt the animals.

What is your vision?

We reduce animal euthanasia in overcrowded shelters by ensuring that each pet has the chance to find a safe and loving home.

When did the organization begin?

Peter E. Rork, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and lifelong pilot, and Judy Zimet, Esq., a lawyer in Arizona, founded the organization in 2012, with the goal of saving as many animals’ lives as possible.

How are you making an impact?

In the US, over 1 million animals are euthanized every year in shelters which has increased the demand for transportation services. Our two planes rescue animals from coast to coast. We are able to reduce euthanasia rates of dogs and cats in shelters, by decreasing the pressure overcrowded shelters feel as more animals are being brought into a shelter than those that are adopted.

We transport animals from shelters in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas where adoptable pets are at the highest risk for euthanasia and fly them to adoption partners where each one has the opportunity to find a loving forever home.

How much do you charge?

We are a 501c(3) non-profit that provides our services at no cost to the shelters and adoption centers we partner with. We rely on donations to fuel our rescue flights.

Who are your partners?

We work collaboratively with city shelters, local animal welfare organizations and individuals to save the lives of pets abandoned in animal shelters. To learn more about becoming a partner click here.

Who are your pilots?

Dr. Peter Rork our founder and chief Pilot is an orthopedic surgeon who donates ALL of his time piloting rescue flights. He started flying lessons when he was twelve, received his Pilot’s license when he was sixteen and took his first solo on May 15, 1969 in New Jersey, where he grew up. After his wife passed away in 2012, he teamed up with Judy Zimet, a Scottsdale real estate attorney and animal lover, to start Dog Is My CoPilot.

Our pilots are a combination of staff and volunteers who donate hundreds of hours flying our rescue missions. Meet our pilots.

What type of animals do you fly?

Dog Is My CcoPilot’s passengers are predominantly dogs (80 percent versus 20 percent cats) who come from about 20 source shelters. Despite being called kill shelters, these open-admission shelters, often in crowded municipal areas, have staff that want the best outcome for the animals in their care — animals that may have been dumped at the shelter or born on the streets and removed for public health and safety reasons. We try to make working at those shelters a little more hopeful.

Can I pay you to transport my pet?

No. We are not a “for-hire” organization. Our mission is to reduce euthanasia rates by transporting animals from places with overcrowded shelters to adoption centers in other geographic regions where loving families are waiting to adopt them.

Where do you fly?

With the support of Petco Love and other foundations, we have been increasing the number of rescue flights where long distance ground transportation is challenging and stressful for the animals. We transport animals from shelters primarily in California, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma where adoptable pets are at the highest risk for euthanasia and fly them to adoption partners where each one has the opportunity to find a loving forever home.

What type of aircraft do you fly?

Dog Is My CoPilot owns two Cessna 208B Grand Caravans, called ‘The Big Dog’ and ‘The Sequel’. Pilot Peter says, “with a 675HP turbine engine up front, there is more than enough power to fly abandoned dogs and cats to their new homes!

How many animals can you transport on one flight?

Our aircrafts have been retrofitted from 12-passenger planes to ones that can carry upwards of 150 animals depending on animal and crate size. An average flight has 75 dogs and cats on board.

Is it safe for animals to fly?

Each animal that is transported is required to have a health certificate, vaccinations and have been examined by a veterinarian prior to flight. All passengers travel in crates to ensure their safety while flying.

How are pilots trained and what are their qualifications?

Our pilots attend FlyRight/SimCom training in North Carolina or Florida. It involves 16 hours of ground school and 6 hours of simulator training each year. The simulator training is quite realistic. The instrument panel is almost identical to our aircraft, and the full motion of the training platform imitates the motion and sensation of actual flight. The volunteer pilots for Dog Is My CoPilot must meet the same requirements that the airlines have.

What is the rescue mission experience?

Our pilots fly the Big Dog + The Sequel to an airport that is closest to our source shelters the day before a rescue flight. They bring empty crates with them to hand off to our source partners in preparation of each flight. The pilots then spend the night and arrive at the airport around 4am for a preflight checklist and load the animals with our partners at around 4:30am. Usually, we are wheels up by 5am! Depending on the number of destination partners and required stops to drop off animals, they can be in the cockpit for up to 8-12 hours in a day with multiple stops.

When do you fly?

We fly year round with our two cessna caravans. While April through October are the busiest months we have flights books, we do fly in the winter depending on the routes and weather.

690,000 Animals

were euthanized in 2023 and the demand for our life saving transportation services has never been greater.
*data from Shelter Animal Count

500+ Volunteer Hours

Our volunteer pilots each donate 100 hours or more of flying a year, saving over $75,000 every year.

200+ Partners

We partner with source and destination animal shelters and adoption organizations to help save shelter pets.

33,054 Animals Saved

We have flown more than 30,000 animals to safety from coast to coast with our two airplanes.