Expanding to Save More Lives

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! 

8 replies
  1. Laura
    Laura says:

    I’m looking forward to participating with your Denver Missions this year.
    Hope to secure a full time job next month so that I can make financial contributions
    in addition to my time.
    Has anyone in your group written a grant to foundations such as the Walmart/Walton Family?
    They give millions of $$’s every year to worthy causes. It’s just a suggestion.
    Aviation is an expensive endeavor and the MAINTenance of your fleet is extremely important~
    Thank you again for all you are doing to help save so many of our canine friends.

  2. donna kirkpatrick
    donna kirkpatrick says:

    Thank you and everyone that is a part of this great project.
    My question is the about the scheduling. How do I find out when dogs will be coming to Spokane or area?
    There is a very big shortage of small / medium size dogs in this area.
    Thank you,
    Donna K

  3. suzy sweitzer
    suzy sweitzer says:

    How do you decide which rescues or shelters to help?
    I am in the Denver area and foster Rottweilers for several recue.
    Thank you for all you do.

  4. Andee Post
    Andee Post says:

    Thank you so much for doing the good work that you do! Who do you coordinate with in the North East? Do you have rescues that you work with in New England?

  5. Tom Goodwin
    Tom Goodwin says:

    Thank you for all you do!! Ive been following/donating when i can. Congrats on your new plane! Keep up the great work and will be praying for every flight be a safe one!

  6. Julie Barnes
    Julie Barnes says:

    I live in South Carolina and the euthaniza rate here is very high. We could really use a service like yours in the Southeast.

  7. Christine Wilson
    Christine Wilson says:

    You guys/gals are the absolute Best! It warms my heart that we have such generous people and volunteers. I’ve been following you for the past 3 years and I love when I see your emails come through. Congratulations on the new plane. This is why it is so important that we spay/neuter our pets so that we don’t have to be in this horrible situation of euthanizing would-be pets, they all deserve the golden ticket. Thank you for saving the ones that you can.
    Love you all – Keep up the great work you continue to do.

  8. louise Reynolds
    louise Reynolds says:

    It’s a wonderful thing you are doing and I support you. But if the places that have so many unwanted animals should be making an effort to spay and neuter and solve their problem. We keep solving their problem for them.


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