The Big Dog’s Fifth Anniversary

It is hard to believe that just five short years ago we bought the Cessna Caravan affectionately called – the Big Dog.  Our plane has flown thousands of animals over thousands of miles in the western United States and it is finally getting an overhaul!

Plane Upgrade

When we started Dog Is My CoPilot in 2012, we used the small private plane of our co-founder, Dr. Peter Rork. His personal plane is a small Cessna “Stationair” that allowed Peter to transport 20-30 animals at a time. While Dr. Rork and  Judy Zimet, executive director and co-founder, were able to save many animals in those first years of the organization using the Sationair, the size of the plane was inhibiting our ability to make a larger impact. In 2016, we purchased the Cessna Caravan – and named her the Big Dog.  The interior of this ‘new to us” plane was well loved and laid out to fly people. Thankfully,  the rescued animals were not looking for a luxury jet, but were happy knowing they are going on a trip of a lifetime!  We retrofitted the plane to go from carrying 12 passengers to one that can carry up to 250 animals at a time. With the Big Dog, we have gone from saving 1,000 animals a year to over 3,000 animals a year.

I knew if we were going to make a mark, we needed to scale up.  That’s where the Big Dog came to be.  The animals don’t care what the plane looks like, they just want to get to their forever home, said Dr. Peter Rork


Big Dog Gets a Facelift

With the generous support of our community, the Big Dog is undergoing essential maintenance this spring. The Big Dog’s engine has been completely overhauled, new propellers are being installed (look out for an upcoming auction to get one of the old ones!) and we’re installing a new Avionics system for the pilots!  This panel helps the pilots with all forms of navigation and control of the plane. The Big Dog’s dated but working analog panel was replaced with a modern and completely digital panel.  We expect that these repairs should last the Big Dog around eight years or about 8,000 hours, allowing us to rescue thousands of animals this year alone.


Flying into 2021

Although 2020 was a challenging year for scheduling our rescue missions, we had a successful season and we are looking forward to another amazing year in 2021.  With 8 volunteer pilots, we will increase our number of flights from 50 to 80 scheduled rescue flights this upcoming season.  Beginning in May, we are scheduled to pick up rescue animals from animal shelters in 17 different southwest cities and deliver them to 12 different adoption centers in cities across the northwest.  We will be coordinating with 30+ different organizations and hopefully rescuing our 20,000th passenger late this summer.  Stay tuned and look out for the new and improved Big Dog flying over your area this summer. 






Foster to Save More Lives

When the pandemic began in March of 2020, shelters and adoption centers across the country were uncertain how this would impact the animals in their care.  All across the country, shelters are continuing to help pets in creative, innovative ways during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the results have been nothing short of amazing. In fact, many have had such an incredible response from their communities that they have been able to save more lives than ever before! 

Fostering Animals at the Animal Adoption Center

The Animal Adoption Center (AAC) in Jackson Hole, one of Dog Is My CoPilot rescue partners, is one example of how there truly can be a silver lining during very hard times.  The AAC was initially worried about how the pandemic was going to affect their foster program.  But as it turned out their foster program is stronger than ever and thanks to their foster homes support they have been able to save more lives than ever before! Read on to learn how their foster program is truly SAVING LIVES! 

AAC Foster Program helps saves dogs at risk of euthanasia

Following the severe winter storm cycle in the south during February,  2021, our local Jackson Wyoming  based partners, Animal Adoption Center welcomed seven dogs from Laredo, Texas into their rescue and adoption program on February 24! Laredo Animal Care Services is one of our incredible source partners located in Texas that we fly for during the summer and spring.  Thanks to amazing partners like the Animal Adoption Center who coordinated a lifesaving  ground transport up North, animals all over Texas are getting a chance to find a home! 

“It is hard to believe that animals are still facing euthanasia due to lack of space. We are so fortunate to help relieve some of the burden in overwhelmed shelters regionally and nationally,” said Jenna Martin, AAC Advancement Director.

📸 Buckrail @buckrailnews // Nick Sulzer @nick.sulzer

The Pandemic changed everything 

Before the pandemic, staff members at the Animal Adoption Center spent time every afternoon juggling foster homes and animals to find every animal a safe place to rest for the night.  At the time, AAC was open to the public and animals would spend the day at the center, going on walks and meeting potential adopters. Every evening, animals would spend the night with local families that are part of their foster network.

By mid March 2020, it was apparent that the Animal Adoption Center would need to adapt to the changing times. The front doors would be shut to the public except for appointments and the strategy for adopting needed to change as well.  Thankfully, the Jackson foster family community opened their doors and animals were placed in longer term foster care homes while waiting for adoption across Teton County and beyond.  Because so many animals found long term foster homes in the community, the AAC has been able to open their doors to the animals most in need at their regional and national partner shelters.

Whether a dog or cat is working on potty training, overcoming fear or anxiety, recovering from a medical procedure or just waiting for the perfect family to come along, they get to adjust to their new life in a home with caring and dedicated fosters, said Virginia Faulkner-Monks, Community Engagement Director at the Animal Adoption Center.


Fostering is good for the soul

Fostering an animal, not only provides a home for an animal, but provides many benefits to the foster family.  Studies have shown that animals are good for your health, help families deal with stress or trauma, and can have an impact on how our country views and deals with homeless animals in our society. A foster home may be an animal’s first taste of what it means to be loved and bridges their experience in a shelter environment with the life of living in a home. 

How you can help

If you are interested in being a foster family and live in Northwest Wyoming, please contact the Animal Adoption Center and fill out an application to be a foster family.  Once complete, you will be added to the foster community call list and AAC will pair foster dogs with you if they believe the animals will thrive and fit into your home.  If you live in other parts of the country or world, please contact your local rescue or shelter to learn about animal fostering programs in your backyard.  


Fly with us every month 

Partners make the best adopting parents

Sometimes, families are looking for an animal to brighten their lives and homes.  Other times, the animals find their own family. That is certainly the case for Jess Farr, Program Director at PAWS, one of our amazing partner organizations.  PAWS of Jackson Hole’s mission is to serve as a community resource to prevent pet homelessness, to protect pets from harm and suffering, and to promote responsible ownership.  The PAWS staff works closely with us and the Animal Adoption Center to save as many animals as possible in Greater Teton County.

Taking a break in ‘Kitty City’

Rescuing animals can be emotionally draining and just spending time with these animals before they find a forever home can help give perspective to this difficult work.  Sitting with the cats in “Kitty City” at the Animal Adoption Center is exactly what Jess often does to rejuvenate her passion for working with rescue animals.  Although she’s typically visiting to check in on adoptions, she also loves playing with 14 purring cats vying for her attention. One cat in particular stole her heart, a black and white fuzzball called Arwen.  Arwen was a Dog Is My CoPilot kitty copilot that we flew from our partners at Abilene Animal Services to the Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, Wyoming. 

Waiting for the right time

Although Jess and her husband have fostered many animals, they were not in a position to bring Arwen home right away because they were right in the middle of a pandemic inspired renovation project.  But in June, Jess and Dave decided that if Arwen was still at AAC when their house project was over, Arwen would be coming home with her.  

There was a certain purring burrito wrapped in black and white cotton candy named Arwen that totally stole my heart from day one!  


Fast forward to the first week of January 2021, it was a new year, a new house and most importantly, Jess and Dave got a new cat and renamed her, Lil’ Jess.

“Arwen, now Lil Jess (insert eyeroll) is our third rescue from the incomparable Animal Adoption Center (AAC) and our first Dog Is My CoPilot (DIMC) passenger! Our household has fostered many DIMC dogs, notably, all of which have been smaller in stature than Lil Jess, and we are so excited to have a Dog Is My CoPilot CAT on our permanent purr-team. Her brothers Lil Dave (yep, we’re that kinda crazy) and Revvy, have both welcomed her home with open paws. Thank you DIMC and the AAC for saving so many lives, our stoke level (and vacuum power level) is blasting on high!”

How you can help

As we move into 2021, we are thankful for all our partners that help make rescuing so many animals possible.  Our life saving flights would not be possible without the support of our partners and our Squadron Members that make a monthly commitment to supporting our rescue flights. This year, your support is critical. Become a Squadron Member today and your donations will help keep our plane wheels up saving lives!


Lifesaving Year

As we look back on a difficult but rewarding year, seeing the smile and joy in families all over the country is our reminder of why we provide critical transportation services to overcrowded animal shelters.

Working alongside our incredible teams of rescue and shelter partners, we saved over 3,500 lives together, but that’s not it!  Your dedication to helping shelter pets supported growth that will forever mean more life-saving.  In 2020, we had four volunteer pilots that completed 55 rescue flights.  In 2021, we will be doubling the number of volunteer pilots. With these additional pilots, we will be expanding the number of flights we can offer to our current partners, while also answering the needs of new shelter and rescue partners. We will be able to reach even more at risk animals and fly them to their forever homes!

Thank you for being part of our biggest year yet.  To celebrate, we want to share a few stories and pictures of the animals that have found homes in 2020, thanks to you!

“Pancake has brought such an intense joy into our lives. She loves snuggling in bed in the morning, playing with her favorite animal toys and learning new things – like she can eat snow! We feel so incredibly lucky to have her in our lives and can’t wait to teach her new things and explore more of this magical place we live. Thank you so much to Dog is My CoPliot for the incredibly important work you do!”

 Percy is so smart, I’ve kept up on his prison program training.  I’m a physical therapist so he gets the best care along with grain free food, supplements, and yummy treats. He’s the biggest baby/cuddle bug!  I lost my other rescue in June, I wasn’t ready to love again but when I saw his photos I know he was the one! Thank you for my best friends ever!


From Fospice pup to cherished family member, Lex flew straight into our hearts aboard Dog Is My CoPilot on 6/6/20.  Thanks to them, Humane Society of North Texas, and Green Heart Rescue, we got to spend the last four months of this beautiful soul’s  life with him.  Sadly, Lex crossed the Rainbow Bridge on 10/8/20


Cece joined our family in August and has already turned into quite the adventure dog! We go on daily walks in the canyon behind our house, and we’re slowly working our way up to longer hikes in the mountains around Sun Valley, Idaho. When not exploring with her nose to the ground, Cece is training in obedience, going on puppy play dates, learning basic agility moves, and perfecting her snuggling techniques. She loves camping and car rides, and while she’s not 100% on board with snow yet, we’re confident that this Texas pup will learn to love the winter, too.


It is honestly hard to put into words just how much we love Luther. We adopted Luther about four months ago from the Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, WY, and even though it was over a four hour drive each way from our home in Livingston, MT, there was something about Luther in his photos that we just knew he would be worth the trip. He spent nearly the whole drive home curled up in my lap and has enhanced our happiness to an inexplicable degree ever since. We are an active couple who love to be outdoors and Luther is game for any adventure. He has climbed up mountains, hiked across the Beartooth Wilderness, kayaked the Yellowstone River and is a great buddy for runs and bike rides. We love to see how happy he is outside; bounding along a trail like a deer, barrelling through a foot of snow, and sprinting back and forth just for the fun of it. We also love a good slow morning or evenings by the woodstove and man can this dog cuddle. He will contort himself into any position to fit by your side, sometimes collapsing in what looks like a pretzel, or seemingly comfortable draped over knees or ankles, or falling over backwards to land in your lap. Luther came to us knowing some commands but is so intelligent and eager to please that he picks up on new ones within a few tries and listens well off leash. We often wonder what Luther’s story was starting out in Abilene,Texas, but we are so glad that Dog Is My Copilot flew him out to Wyoming and the Animal Adoption Center so that we could find the most amazing dog. Multiple times a day we audibly tell Luther how great he is and how lucky we are to have him. While we are mostly sure he does not understand the words, we know he feels the sentiment.

~Cayley and Allen Livingston, MT

 We treasure our current animals and welcoming someone new was a long process with lots of worry about he/she accept out pets or be scared/distant.  Momo-Chan (little peach) in Japanese has made our life complete and everyone loves her!




 MURRAY loves Olive and Louie and they love him!  He is eating like a monster, such a sweet boy, and we’re falling more in love with him every day. Murray is but one example of the way you save lives and we are examples of the lives that you enrich. Thank you!


The ultimate goal in the animal welfare industry is to keep people and pets together, but sometimes assistance is needed to make this happen. Many times, Animal Humane Officers are put into difficult situations when they find animals that need extra care and attention. And as animal lovers, they are able to make powerful decisions that can change the trajectory of the animals in their city. This is one of those stories.

A big heart

Myrna De La Torre is an animal humane officer for Animal Services in El Paso, Texas. She was driving around during her regular animal welfare checks and came across an owner that had two adult dogs that accidentally had a litter of ten puppies.  While this owner loved their dogs, they did not have the resources to care for the new family.  When Officer De La Torre arrived, four of the puppies had already died of malnutrition and she realized something had to change quickly. 

Officer sprang to action

Officer De La Torre immediately provided the owner with food and told them she would be back the next day. By the time De La Torre returned to the house the next day, only three puppies were alive.  The owner allowed Officer De La Torre to take the remaining puppies to El Paso Animal Services where they could receive immediate medical attention. Officer De La Torre helped the owner spay and neuter the adult dogs to ensure that the parents would not have puppies again and left them with food.   

Big Dog to the Rescue!

Early this winter, the three adorable pups made the journey on the “Big Dog” with Dog Is My CoPilot to Jackson Hole, Wyoming thanks to our partners El Paso Animal Services and Animal Adoption Center. After a very tumultuous start to their lives, the three puppies have all found forever homes! 

The Puppies Find New Life in Wyoming!

There is so much we all have to say about 2020 – in some ways it was kinder than other years – with the pressures of social life and travel gone, we have all enjoyed more of our own meals and focusing on the relationships closest to us. In other ways, it has been one of the hardest and strangest years – full of heartaches for the state of our country and our world. We are still incredibly grateful 2020 still brought us many blessings, Justin and I got married and settled into our new home in Jackson Hole. We were missing one thing to make it complete. Pancake has brought such an intense joy into our lives. She loves snuggling in bed in the morning, playing with her favorite animal toys and learning new things – like she can eat snow! We feel so incredibly lucky to have her in our lives and can’t wait to teach her new things and explore more of this magical place we live. Thank you so much to Dog is My CoPliot for the incredibly important work you do!


El Paso Animal Services

Dog Is My CoPilot is fortunate to have partners like the El Paso Animal Services and the Animal Control Officers that work with them in El Paso, Texas.  These rescue organizations and support staff have a thankless job where the number of stray animals outnumber the available adoptable homes.  Partnerships like this provide inspiration, and remind us what collaboration can accomplish in each of our own communities!  El Paso Animal Services are changing the lives of animals and their owners in their community.  “We are no longer just a shelter. We’re here to provide pet resources that go beyond the shelter walls,” said Ramon Herrara of the El Paso Animal Services.

Give Thanks at Year End

We are looking forward to flying into the new year and saving thousands of more lives together! Please join us in making 2021 just as meaningful and impactful as 2020 has been.  Your support goes straight to work, allowing us to transport pets so they can find forever homes.



Time to celebrate! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Thank you for your passion, your dedication, your generosity, and kindness. We are blown away from the generosity and outpouring of support on Giving Tuesday.  Your incredible acts of kindness will help hundreds of pets find their way home!

With the help of Lulu’s Fund, this year we were able to double the first $10,000 of your donations  💖Lulu went to the Rainbow Bridge on June 28, 2019.  Tim and Sandy are deeply grateful for the 15 years of great joy, happiness and abundant love they shared with this little pug, who will forever be known as “their puppy”.  Lulu was a much beloved member of the Day family, and through Lulu’s Fund they provide assistance to many dogs in need – and help them find their very own loving families.  We can’t thank the Timothy T. Day Foundation enough for their support of our GivingTuesday matching campaign in honor of Lulu’s life. 

All of the money we raised during GivingTuesday will help us save more dogs like Riley. 

Riley was on a recent Dog Is My CoPilot rescue flight and it has not taken her very long to find the perfect snuggle spot on every couch in her new forever home. She’s even made friends with the cats already part of her new family.  Riley has found her happy place on hikes, in the dog park or chasing rabbits outside.  

Riley she is JOYFUL, loyal, loving, snuggly.  She hikes or goes to the dog park every weekend, leaping into the car with enthusiasm when time to go. She has her “spot” on every couch in the house and still loves snuggling every second she gets. She and the kids are best buddies. Still loves to chase rabbits and protective in our home (if someone comes over, very rare during Covid, we’ve learned if we introduce her outside first then she’s fine). She and the cats peacefully co-exist, even sharing the couch nicely 🙂 She is healthy, happy, full of life and I am grateful every day for her ❤️❤️


We are eternally grateful for everyone that contributed on GivingTuesday. Thank you 💖 

Lightspeed Headset Supports Our Team

Rescuing dogs and cats is a logistical challenge. Of course, there are obstacles with coordinating the relocation of animals between shelters and rescue partners.  But once the animals are in the sky, most of the time they are calm, and sleeping for their journey north. This is when Peter the Pilot takes over in the adventure and where Lightspeed helps us on our life saving flights. 

Headset for the Big Dog

Recently, Dog Is My CoPilot received a headset from Lightspeed Aviation. This company builds high quality aviation headsets for pilots.  Since their inception in 1996, Lightspeed has been the leader in wearable ANR technology headsets. They’re based in Lake Oswego Oregon, outside Portland, and we have delivered many animals to partners in their vicinity and their high quality communication devices have helped us with these flights. 

Peter Flies Alone

Once the rescued dogs and cats are loaded into the plane, Peter likes to quickly get off the ground and head to the next destination.  We often fly to multiple destinations in one day and Pilot Peter prefers to spend as little time on the ground as possible. During the flight, it is very important that our flight team be in constant contact with the various flight towers across the flight plan.  As Peter said, “This is an essential part of our equipment for the pilots who volunteer their time to Dog Is My CoPilot.”  We’re incredibly fortunate to have 3 volunteer pilots that donate their time to fly the Big Dog to our rescue partners.  Lightspeed headsets, and all of our modern aviation equipment, makes each and every flight that much easier and safer. 




Thanks to you they are home

Despite being a challenging year, 2020 has us thankful for our community of animal lovers. This year, even with delays and schedule changes from COVID, we flew more flights than ever and formed new partnerships with shelters across southern Texas. We can’t thank you enough for your support during these challenging times.

You’ll love seeing the smile on the faces of these lucky pups that have found a forever home after their rescue flight.


Charlotte comfy in her new home!           Percy loving the outdoors and snuggling! 


Lucinda is living the good life.                Francis is looking cute in this whiskey box!


Would you like to give a dog or cat a second chance at life?  Check out our Adoption page to find an animal in your area who needs a forever home.  



Old Bill’s Takes Flight Again!

In 2020, we knew that the Old Bill’s Fun Run was going to be different than it has been in the past. That said, there was no way to know how our community would respond since the actual run and celebration was all virtual. We are beyond excited by the support of the community, not only for Dog Is My CoPilot, but for all the non-profits taking part in this amazing event ❤️ 

By the Numbers

Old Bill’s Fun Run in 2020 generated over 24,000 gifts from 4,349 donors, totaling $15,314,287 of donations, which represents an increase of 7% over last year. The match pool, created with gifts from Mr. & Mrs. Old Bill, Co-Challengers and Friends, totaled $3,500,245, while participating organizations received $11,814,041 in gifts designated specifically for them. 

Supporting Our Home Base

Donations from Old Bill’s allow us to fly rescue dogs like Abby from Abilene, Texas to Jackson Hole.  She was fostered by a local family through the Animal Adoption Center (AAC), and they fell in love with her bravery and sweet nature. Abby is estimated to be middle-aged and came with some health issues, but she quickly adapted and was made a permanent member of the family four days after she arrived. “We are so thankful to Dog Is My CoPilot and are happy to support their efforts to find loving homes for so many at-risk pets”, said Michele Pacifico and John Martin of Jackson, WY, Abby’s new parents. We hope Abby loves her first snowy winter! 


Our partners

We have amazing partners in Teton County, Wyoming who are also supported through Old Bill’s Fun Run. The Animal Adoption Center has been busy finding homes for hundreds of dogs and cats over the past several months as demand has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the newly adopted animals have arrived on the “Big Dog” and you’ll see them around town with their new families! PAWS of Jackson and the Teton County Animal Shelter have also been incredible supporters of Dog Is My CoPilot and welcomed many more dogs into their program where they found homes here in Teton County.


Dog Is My CoPilot is so thankful to our local community and all those that donated through the Old Bill’s Fun Run.  We are eternally grateful to be a part of this community and would not be able to rescue over 17,000 animals without the generous support of our everyone at home base. Thank you!


Paws & Think

PAWS and THINK!® Supports DIMC

When we fly an animal to a new family, we’re always reminded about the influence dogs have in our lives.  Miranda Mittleman was inspired by her four legged friend and turned her passion for animals into a series of children’s books.  

Miranda’s Inspiration

Miranda Mittleman grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where she developed her love for poetry and can recite many poems from her childhood by heart. After graduating college and meeting her husband, Miranda adopted a mutt named Weaver through an amazing rescue organization called We Rescue Love, Inc. While living in Baltimore, Miranda was inspired to write the PAWS and THINK!® children’s series after all the adventures she was having with her new adopted dog.


The book series is about the lessons we learn from our animal companions. Each story describes an experience from when Weaver was a young pup and describes important life lessons to Miranda’s young readers The stories cover sportsmanship, thankfulness, being different, and self-importance. The books are light hearted, well illustrated, and relatable for any child interested in learning and growing. 

DIMC: Charity of the Quarter

We are excited to be named the PAWS and THINK!® Charity of the Quarter.  Every quarter, Miranda donates a portion of her book sales to a different organization helping those in need.  During the fourth quarter of 2020, Dog Is My CoPilot will be that recipient.  Check out all 4 books in the PAWS and THINK!® series and help support DIMC. This is the perfect time of year to give a gift that supports Dog Is My CoPilot and a book that encourages our young people to grow into better people.