The Big Dog Flies Year Round

Saving the lives of shelter animals all comes down to working together! One of the greatest experiences we’ve had is getting the opportunity to meet our shelter and rescue partners in person!

Saving the Lives of Shelter Animals All Comes Down to Working Together

Saving the lives of shelter animals all comes down to working together! One of the greatest experiences we’ve had is getting the opportunity to meet our shelter and rescue partners in person!

Transporting 30,000 pets to safety and counting 

We are excited to reconnect with you and share the impact our community of animal lovers has made this year. Together, with your support, and the help of our partners, we are flying nearly 1,000 animals to new forever homes every month.

Rescuing Hercules and Making a Difference in Overcrowded Shelters

At the heart of the rescue season, our two airplanes have been wheels up nearly seven days week. As the demand for transportation services grows, we recently achieved a significant milestone by flying our 30,000th passenger. We are excited to share Hercules’ story, a delightful addition to our rescue family!

Hercules’s journey began in Presidio, Texas, a small town on the US-Mexico border. The Presido Animal Shelter is a 6-kennel steel shed with no supplies, no budget for veterinary care, no volunteers and no adoptions (just one dog adoption in the last 24 months). Without rescue transport, dogs that enter the shelter don’t make it out alive. At 9 years old when he was surrendered to the shelter he had spent his entire life living tied to a chain.

Our dedicated partners from The Underground Dog and One Tail at a Time first met Hercules while doing a relief trip to the shelter. They didn’t have space for him at that time, but made sure to keep tabs on him over the next several months. He had a euthanasia deadline and One Tail at A Time in Chicago acted quickly to get him on board a recent rescue flight! Thanks to the compassionate efforts of one of our volunteer pilots, Captain Wojteczko, Hercules was saved at the eleventh hour and transported north to a loving foster home in Chicago. When we say it takes a village, we’re not joking!

Hercules’s journey was made possible through our partnerships with these amazing shelters and rescues. Thanks to one of our regular transport partners, Austin Pets Alive! Hercules boarded The Sequel with a plane full of other Texas pups! The Austin Pets Alive! transport program emerged in response to the 2021 Winter Storm Uri, which severely affected Texas shelters. Recognizing the urgent need to act before countless animals faced euthanasia, Austin Pets Alive! bridged the gap between under-resourced Texas shelters and no-kill shelters and rescue organizations across state lines. They provide essential resources, including vet care, health certificates, vaccinations, and transport coordination for these animals. In collaboration, Dog Is My CoPilot has three flights a month dedicated with Austin Pets Alive!, bringing animals to other partners of the country to be adopted.

While Hercules awaits his forever home, he has been a true delight in the two foster homes he has called his own since arriving. Remarkably, despite spending the majority of his life chained outside, Hercules is well-behaved with other dogs, house-trained, walks well on a leash, and is crate-trained. Considering his challenging start in life, Hercules is nothing short of amazing.

Despite the tremendous amount of time and care shelter workers are providing to animals in their facilities, hard decisions are being made as kennel space is running out for the number of animals coming in. Hercules represents just one example of these difficult choices. Every day, overcrowded shelters receive more animals, straining their already limited resources and space. Contrary to popular belief, the overcrowding crisis is primarily due to housing shortages rather than pandemic-related returns.

We’re flying almost seven days a week, reaching partners in both small towns and large cities, striving to alleviate that plight of desperate animal shelters.

You too can make a difference in the overcrowded shelter crisis by adopting from your local animal shelter. These shelters offer a wide variety of breeds and ages, ensuring there’s a perfect pet for everyone.

Old Bill’s Fun Run

We are so excited that the Old Bill’s Fun Run Giving season is upon us!  We’re grateful to be part of this incredible event. Each year, funds raised through Old Bill’s touch the lives of everyone including pets in Teton County! You can become a donor through Old Bill’s Fun Run and support Dog Is My CoPilot to help us fly pets in overcrowded shelters to adoption centers that help each pet find a safe and loving home.

At Dog Is My CoPilot, we have witnessed the incredible impact that local animal rescue organizations are making.  Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to help tens of thousands of animals find their “furever” homes.  We know that, with your generous contribution through Old Bill’s Fun Run, we can go even further and save more lives than ever before.

By donating through Old Bill’s Fun Run during the giving season, the impact of each donor’s gift is boosted through the additional funding provided by Co-Challengers in the form of matching gifts. Will you join us with a gift today and help us leverage the full match?


We believe that collaboration with individual animal shelters and adoption organizations, which manage the placement of animals in their local communities, is key to saving more lives! 

Across the country, animal shelters and adoption centers are facing overwhelming challenges due to overcrowding. The transport of animals between organizations plays a crucial role in balancing the distribution and easing the strain. Here in Teton County, we are fortunate to be members of a community of passionate animal lovers who are truly changing lives. One notable example of our impact is Pumpkin’s story.


Pumpkin’s journey brought her to Teton County after a breeder in California left her at a large city shelter in Los Angeles.  Her life had been limited to repeated breeding, confined to a crate, devoid of outdoor play, leash walks, or the freedom to run. When Pumpkin landed in Jackson with the Animal Adoption Center, her initial skittishness was a testament to her unfamiliarity with the world beyond her previous confines. Now, in her loving forever home, she has blossomed into the dog she was meant to be. Pumpkin revels in outdoor walks, exploring the sprawling five acres of her new home, and embracing the joys of being a “Jackson Dog” – playing, running, and frolicking alongside her newfound furry friends. It’s heartwarming to see Pumpkin’s transformation and witness the difference that can be made when communities work together.


From Hoot’s mom, Lilly: I’m literally obsessed with her!!! She’s a stage 5 clinger, but in a really cute way, not a separation anxiety way. She does really well in her crate but if i’m home, she is constantly in my space. Her personality has definitely come out now that she’s settled in! She’s very into toys, shoes, and has even tried to run off with some cash! She also likes going for hikes and does really well riding in a backpack when she gets tired. She’s such a fun dog and is going to be such a good college dog!!



Because of our partnerships with local adoption centers we are able to make these success stories a possibility. Thank you for being part of our lifesaving mission!



Doubling Down on Saving Shelter Pets Nationwide 

As we’re ‘flying’ into the summer months we want to celebrate our success’es during one of the hardest years for shelters nationwide. Together with our partners we are rescuing nearly 1,000 animals a month but the situation for shelter pets is becoming evermore urgent.  

Thank you 27,000 lives saved

Dear Dog Is My CoPilot family,

We are humbled by the extraordinary generosity of our community and we are excited to announce that we have successfully reached our fundraising matching goal of $25,000 for my birthday fundraiser. This remarkable achievement fills us with excitement as we prepare to put these funds to work to rescue more animals.

Each day, thousands of animals left at shelters find themselves facing the heartbreaking fate of euthanasia simply because they lack a safe and loving home. However, with your unwavering support, we are able to intervene and save the lives of countless numbers  of dogs and cats, ultimately flying them to forever homes across the country.

Throughout the month of May, we completed seventeen rescue flights and transported nearly one thousand beloved pets! One particularly special flight brought a fortunate passenger named “Pimms” from Laredo, Texas to one of our incredible lifesaving partners, the Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, Wyoming. This lifesaving journey was made possible through our invaluable partnership with Austin Pets Alive! and Laredo Animal Services. Prior to the flight, Pimms was on the verge of euthanasia due to limited space and resources. Regrettably, she was one of four-hundred dogs in the shelter who had been overlooked. However, thanks to the rescue flight, Pimms was greeted with open arms by a warm and welcoming crew in Wyoming. She is now under the care of our Executive Director, Kara Pollard and her family, providing a safe foster home, and is available for adoption through the Animal Adoption Center.

In another recent rescue flight, we celebrated a momentous milestone as we transported our 27,000th rescue animal. Ihop, a brave soul, was discovered by Stone Creek  Veterinary hospital in Texas with a severely broken leg. Despite months of efforts to save the leg, the limb ultimately was amputated. Our incredible partners at Hearts and Bones ensured Ihop’s safety and accompanied her on a flight to NYC. (Note: Dog Is My CoPilot is now transporting nationwide!) Today, she is thriving and embracing a brighter future, filled with happiness and hope.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the immeasurable love and unwavering dedication displayed by our shelter and rescue partners every single day. We consider them to be the true heroes. 

Together, we forge a powerful alliance, united by the belief that we can create a meaningful impact in the lives of these precious animals and the individuals who cherish them. Your support has been instrumental in helping us reach our goal for this matching campaign, and we cannot THANK YOU enough for being an integral part of our lifesaving mission.

Once again, thank you for your dedication and for standing alongside us in our mission to save lives. 

With gratitude,

Peter the Pilot

📷 Sarah Demarco Photography: https://www.sarahdemarco.com


Celebrating Pilot Peter’s Birthday and 26,000 passengers flown to safety!

As we kick off May, we’re excited to celebrate our 26,000th passenger flown to safety! Our two airplanes have already touched down on both coasts and both borders of the continental United States, and have been ‘Wheels up’ nearly every day transporting hundreds of dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters to the safety of receiving organizations.  

Happy Birthday Pilot Pilot Peter!

This month we are also celebrating Pilot Peter’s, our Founder and Chief Pilots Birthday! Dr. Rork started Dog Is My CoPilot eleven years ago with a single small personal airplane after the passing of his wife. Now in 2023, we have two rescue planes and an army of volunteers to help us save as many animals as we can. To help celebrate Peter’s birthday and the 26,000 animals we have saved, ‘Abba’ and her dad have generously stepped forward to match every gift dollar-for-dollar- up to an incredible $25,000! Please share with your friends and family to help both our airplanes stay ‘Wheels Up’ saving lives all year long!

I am amazed by the growth of our reach.  As I begin another trip around the sun, I want to thank everyone who supports our life saving rescue flights… you are all heroes, especially to the 26,000 lives flown to safety, said Peter Founder and Chief Pilot. 

Passenger 26,000 saved!

One recent rescue flight stands out as particularly heartwarming. We were able to give Shaffer, a 3-year-old gentle giant from El Paso Animal Services, a golden ticket to One Tail At A Time in Portland, Oregon. Shaffer had been at the shelter since September 2022 and quickly became a staff favorite, but despite his sweet face and gentle demeanor, he struggled to find a forever home. Thankfully, he’s now in the loving care of foster mom Michelle, who reports that he’s “just one big hunk of love” and loves snoozing on the couch and keeping an eye out for pesky squirrels. We’re confident that it won’t be long before Shaffer finds his forever family, thanks to supporters like you.

We wanted to take a moment to recognize our amazing partner, El Paso Animal Services (EPAS), who has been working tirelessly to help animals in need. As the only open access shelter in the county, they take in any animal that arrives at their doorstep, which means they face a daunting challenge every day. With 50 to 150 animals arriving daily and only about 10 animals adopted out, the shelter is severely overcrowded, putting a tremendous strain on their dedicated staff and volunteers. That’s where Dog Is My CoPilot comes in. We’ve been proud to partner with EPAS for the past five years, and one rescue flight to their shelter can make a huge difference in the lives of animals and the people who care for them. By transporting animals to other parts of the country, we’re able to alleviate some of the pressure on EPAS, giving them more space, time, and resources to focus on caring for the animals in their care.

Fly along with us and watch this heartwarming film!

Together with Petco Love and Bobs from Skechers, we are giving shelter pets a second chance at life by transporting them from cities where the shelters are overcrowded, to cities where the demand for rescue is high. A win-win for everyone involved and a true mission of love.

We’re thrilled to report that the 2023 rescue season is off to an incredible start, with hundreds of animals already rescued and transported to loving homes across the country. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our pilots, staff, and volunteers, our planes have landed in cities like New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boise, ID, Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, to name just a few.

We are looking forward to the next 26,000 animals saved and the hundreds of stories of animals finding their forever home.  We could not do this life saving work without their support,  thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of our Dog Is CoPilot family. 

Here are some heartwarming photos of recent rescue flights and the passengers you have helped to save!

With gratitude,



Saving Lives Together with our Shelter Partners

This Spring, our team hit the road to visit our shelter partners in Texas. This was one of the most impactful rescue trips we’ve ever made! Let me take you along to meet the incredible people and wonderful animals that Lynette Duford (Rescue Flight Coordinator)  and Kara Pollard (Executive Director) worked with as they visited our partners. They witnessed firsthand the struggles many overcrowded animal shelters face on a daily basis. Each worker and volunteer plays a crucial role in the well-being of every animal that comes through their door, as they prepare for a flight to their forever home with Dog Is My CoPilot. 

Lynette and Kara traveled over 2,000 miles, toured over a dozen animal shelters both large and small, connected with hundreds of staff and volunteers, and met thousands of animals in need of a forever home. They were welcomed at every shelter with open arms and smiles, and were humbled by the hard work of each staff member and the army of volunteers that are working to save the lives of the animals in their care.

At first glance the shelters could be seen as sad, tragic places. It can be overwhelming to think that on any one day, these organizations are caring for thousands of animals. The shelters are up against what seems to be insurmountable circumstances because of the sheer volume of dogs and cats in their care. Kara and Lynette were anticipating some tears throughout the week, but the opposite happened. They left this trip inspired, hopeful, and excited to work even harder with their partners to rescue more animals in our upcoming rescue season.

Shelters making a difference

Lynette and Kara visited several large municipal and private animal shelters like Austin Pets Alive, San Antonio Pets Alive, Laredo Animal Care Services, El Paso Animal Services, and Fort Worth Animal Care & Control. At many locations, there were animals in every area of the shelter, multiple animals per kennel.  To meet the demand, sometimes the shelters used tarps outside to house the overflowing numbers under their care. At one shelter visit, it took them over three hours just to walk by each kennel, and of course they made sure to surprise the animals with treats. Kara and Lynette were amazed that the staff and volunteers knew all the dogs’ names and how long the animals had been in the shelter and their backstories. 

In addition to working with Dog Is My CoPilot to provide rescue flights, many of the large shelters are running spay and neuter clinics, community vaccine clinics, and adoption drives, and engaging the local community to help provide homes for strays. Kara and Lynette were heartened to see how the rescue flights not only save lives but also boost morale and inspire the workers at these shelters. They left Texas feeling more motivated than ever to work with their partners to rescue more animals and create positive change.

Small shelters have the same struggle

From some of the largest to some of the smallest, Kara and Lynette got to meet with the staff and volunteers at Luling Animal Shelter that has only six kennels, and Robert Pedraza who created Paws and Strides Rescue out of his home. At first glance you would think smaller shelters would have it much easier than a massive shelter, but it’s all about scale. Fewer dogs means fewer staff, no walk-in traffic of potential adopters, yet every week new animals arrive that need a home. No matter how big or small a shelter, there is always a need for more shelter space.  However, what stood out to Kara and Lynette was the level of dedication and passion that the staff and volunteers put into saving every animal’s life. They were humbled by Robert’s huge heart and all the love this incredible man had for each dog in his care.

Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) has created a unique transportation hub where they collect animals from these smaller rural shelters where adopters are sparse and veterinary resources are limited. APA! then works with receiving organizations and provides health screenings before animals are transported.  Through our partnership with APA! we help fly hundreds of animals a month into homes across the country, both on the west and east coasts. For many shelter workers, knowing that all the hard work and time resulted in an animal finding a home is rewarding enough to come back to face the challenges at the shelters every day. 


Kara and Lynette met Sweet Tia at Laredo Animal Care Services in Laredo, Texas. Shelter and in 48 hours, was with a foster family in Wyoming. Tia, a little cattle dog, had been overlooked for weeks in the shelter but won the heart of Kara and together with the Animal Adoption Center she found a loving home in the Tetons!

What we learned

After reflecting on their trip, Kara and Lynette were struck by the importance of partnerships, the humbling nature of their experiences, and the hope and gratitude they felt.

At Dog Is My CoPilot, the mission to save the lives of animals in need is wholly dependent on the support and collaboration of shelter and rescue partners. As such, it is critical that everyone involved in the organization’s efforts, from its staff and volunteers to its supporters, recognizes and values the vital work being done by these partners every day

One such partner is El Paso Animal Services (EPAS), which takes in anywhere from 50 to 100 animals per day and houses up to 800 dogs and cats at any given time. Given the staggering number of animals in their care, and the fact that only about ten adoptions are made on a good day, EPAS is always struggling with overcrowding. This is why the work of organizations like Dog Is My CoPilot is so important: by flying out 75-100 animals from this one shelter every three weeks, the team is making a significant difference in the lives of the animals left behind. Kara and Lynette were grateful for the opportunity to meet the hardworking people behind the scenes and express their appreciation in person. They left their visit feeling even more connected to their partners, knowing that they are all united in their goal to help save adoptable pets.

Thank you

We are forever grateful to the shelter workers and volunteers who tirelessly care for animals in need. They carry a heavy load, yet they do it with unwavering love and compassion. We are humbled by their dedication and inspired by their selflessness, said Kara Pollard, Executive Director 

In addition, Kara and Lynette saw first hand how your support makes a difference in the lives of these pets. With two airplanes in operation and over 100 flights scheduled all over the country, we are anticipating flying over 5,000 animals to safety this year. 

Thank you to our entire community who have prioritized saving animals, spreading love, and keeping our planes, the Sequel and the Big Dog, wheels up for years to come.

With gratitude,


Flying into the new year with dogs landing in homes!

Quasi was a rescue we met at the end of 2022. He was left by his owners at a large municipal shelter in Merced, California. He had an infection in his body that was life threatening and he needed help right away. Thankfully, one of our amazing rescue partners, New Beginnings For Merced County Animals was able to act quickly and worked with a local veterinarian to address his medical needs immediately. At that moment everyone knew his road to recovery was going to be challenging. Quasi was able to hitch a ride on The Big Dog, sponsored by Petco Love shortly after his operation. Quasi began his recovery at Camp Duford in Polson Montana where he was able to sleep the days away and heal from major surgery. As he recovered, Life Savers Animal Rescue helped assist to find him a home.

Quasi was put in a foster home with our own rescue flight coordinator Lynette Duford. After Lynette removed the staples from his surgery to remove a large mass, the rescuers were able to see what an amazing and resilient dog Quasi had become. Quasi needed a few more surgeries to fix his eyes and get “fixed” head to toe, but as his surgeries were all healing, he was getting some obedience training and began playing with other dogs. After a couple weeks, he found a home in northern Montana. We are grateful to have played a role in Quasi getting a second chance at life and grateful to the shelters and rescues that work tirelessly to save animals just like Quasi. The pictures below say it all, working together truly saves lives!

Although we are not planning any rescue flights for another couple weeks, we are still very busy getting ready for the upcoming season. Our ten volunteer pilots recently attended their annual training at the end of January. This training is mandatory for our pilots and we like to make sure that our pilots are receiving the best training available.

Our planes also get an additional yearly check up in the off season. This year’s annual maintenance is special for “The Sequel” because it will be receiving a new avionics panel so that it is identical to “The Big Dog”. This will make the planes safer and easier for our volunteer pilots to captain. Both planes are having the work done at Yingling Aviation in Wichita, KS. Once this work has been completed, the “Big Dog” will be picked up by Captain Maresca and we will plan a rescue flight with our Texas shelter partners to deliver animals near our homebase in Jackson Wyoming.

We are naming this flight “operation Maxie” because Maxie is a special CoPilot, who was rescued by our partner Underground Dog and she is being adopted by Captain Maresca and his wife Margo!  Maxie was brought into the rural, small Marfa Animal Shelter (6 kennels) along with her sister Lola, a senior chihuahua, and a young shepherd puppy with a terribly embedded collar. All dogs lived in a very small backyard, received little care or attention, and were living in very dirty, difficult conditions. The shepherd puppy went fairly quickly to a rescue and the senior chi found a foster home, but Maxie and her sister languished in the low enrichment shelter for more than eight weeks before going to a spay/neuter clinic in Presidio and then landing short-term foster homes to help them recover from surgery and to get to know them better. Frank and Margo fell in love with her pictures and decided she is “the one!”.  We will be flying from El Paso Texas where Maxie and 50 other dog passengers will board the Big Dog on a truly lifesaving flight!

Be sure to stay tuned for more flight updates in the next few weeks. Please keep an eye on our social media feeds like Facebook and Instagram so you are the first to know when we are back in the air rescuing animals for the upcoming 2023 season.