Dog Is My CoPilot started in 2012 and soon became a victim of its own success. After just a few short years, we acquired a larger Cessna 208B Grand Caravan — aka “The Big Dog” — that was retrofitted from a 12-passenger plane to one that can carry hundreds of pets. The Big Dog and our team of nine volunteer pilots allows us to transport animals virtually everyday during our flying season.
Today, we are thrilled to announce that we purchased a second airplane to transport twice as many pets from overcrowded shelters to new adoption partners. Over 1 million animals are euthanized every year in America. The shelters and rescues that they come from are underserved, overpopulated, and often forgotten; these are the organizations we are determined to help! We have seen demand for our services steadily increase over the last few years so we’ve been exploring ways to increase our capacity to serve more shelters.
To celebrate our expansion, a very generous supporter and his dog Abba (Take A Chance On Me) have stepped forward to match, dollar-for-dollar, every gift up to an incredible $25,000! We’d love to have your support to help keep our new plane “Wheels Up”! You can make a gift online or send a check to P.O. Box 3399 Jackson, Wyoming 83001.
“We believe that collaboration is key to saving more lives and we are humbled by the generosity of our supporters who believe in our mission to help save as many animals as possible,” said Peter Rork, M.D., Chief Pilot and President of DIMC. “We hope our expansion will inspire more people to work together for the greater good of our animal friends. These dogs think we’re saving them but at the end of the day, they save us. They give us the chance to do good and help, to live with a greater purpose than ourselves.”
Our rescue flights are at no cost to the shelters and adoption centers we partner with. We rely on donations to fuel our rescue flights. The cost of airline fuel has doubled in the last year, and our flights from southern Texas can be as long as 1300 nautical miles to receiving organizations. We are also paying for ramp fees, facility fees, plane parking for overnights so that we can get an early start to our day! Our success is due to our community of supporters and our dedicated team of shelter, adoption centers and volunteers across the country.
We are planning to base the new plane in Texas to help support even more shelters across the state that are trying desperately to bring down the euthanasia rate. We are not only doubling the number of flights, but are doubling the number of lives we can save. Our receiving and adoption partner network is expanding to the northeast with flights scheduled to New England and New York.
Why are we basing our new plane in Texas?
- It is estimated that 150,000 animals are still needlessly dying in Texas shelters every year.
- According to our partners Austin Pets Alive, it costs a fraction of their total per animal to serve as a distributor to shelters and rescues as it does to take them all in and do all the work themselves before adoption.
- Texas is located in the center of the country and flying to the Northeast from south Texas is about the same distance as a flight to Seattle, Washington.
“We estimate that approximately 150,000 pets are euthanized each year in Texas alone, but there is a national crisis,” said Clare Callison, Director of National Pet Supply & Demand at Austin Pets Alive!.
In most northern U.S. communities, there is an overabundance of adopters. Ground transport is not always a realistic or safe option to transport pets long distances. It can take days of travel in ground vehicles to reach areas with high demand for adoptable animals. Cost effective air transport is a lifesaving tool for pets in need and will help assist shelters in Texas (and beyond) work towards their goal of becoming no-kill states.
The flights we are coordinating are large and complicated! There are weeks of preparation leading up to each flight. It starts with animal selection and receiving partners communicate with shelters through photos, videos, and behavior assessments to select pets that will be transported. Each animal is given a health check by a veterinarian, making sure they are healthy for the flight. All the flight kennels have to be appropriately sized, correctly tagged with our color code system and animals ready at the airport for transport. Our shelter and rescue partners are the true heroes; working tirelessly to help the pets in the care find homes.
We are very grateful for The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundations, Petco Love, Lulu’s Fund and our special furry co-pilots Jack and Laika for making our second plane purchase possible. Keep an eye on your email and future blogs for updates, pictures of our new plane, partner shelters, and of course, the dogs and cats that find loving homes. Thank you!