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 have is getting the opportunity to meet our shelter and rescue partners in person! As you may know, we do a lot of our coordination remotely, working behind the scenes planning flights from our phone and computers. Recently our back-office team took to the skies and flew to California to meet with a few great friends and rescue partners. We want to share our journey and experience so you can see first hand the impact YOU make.

Checking in with our partners

Animal shelters across the country continue to experience a significant increase in the number of animals requiring care. Many shelters are faced with making difficult and life changing decisions such as euthanizing pets because they are running out of room to house animals humanely. This situation truly hit home when our team stepped into our partner shelters during a recent visit to California. Executive Director, Kara Pollard, and Rescue Flight Coordinator, Lynette DuFord, had the eye-opening opportunity to visit two long-standing partners in California, witnessing firsthand the daily impact of the shelter crisis on their operations.

New Beginnings for Merced County Animals holds a special place in our hearts as the very first shelter/rescue partner Dog Is My CoPilot collaborated with twelve years ago. This all-volunteer team tirelessly rescues shelter pets from the brink of euthanasia from their county shelter. Walking into the kennels and seeing over three hundred dogs was a mixture of heartwarming moments and the humbling reality of the countless dogs in need. Passing by each kennel were dogs happy, wagging their tails, seemingly hoping today was the day they would be adopted and taken home. But the reality is, there were more dogs coming into the shelter then there were adopters walking out of the shelter with them. Walking next to us through the shelter, were the unsung heroes, the volunteers, and the shelter staff who go above and beyond to care for all the animals that come into their facility and programs.

Pintsized pup gets a special treat

One heartwarming tale we wanted to share is a special dog, Brandy, an 8-pound, 5-year-old Chihuahua from the very shelter we toured in Merced, CA. Named after a caregiver at the veterinary office she was transferred to New Beginnings for Merced County Animals. Brandy captured our hearts, earning her a spot on our journey back to our home base in Jackson, Wyoming. In the capable hands of Executive Director Kara Pollard, Brandy is thriving in a loving foster home, recovering from a chronic skin condition that left her with hair loss and uncomfortable skin. Soon, she will embark on a journey to Camp Duford in Polson, Montana, in search of her forever home.

Los Angeles crowded city shelters

The second shelter we visited was our good friends in Los Angeles, California at the LA Animal Services, where we also spent the day with the local non-profit rescue, Paws For Life K9 Rescue. With hundreds of animals awaiting adoption, Paws For Life K9 Rescue, regularly pulls dogs into their program from LA City shelters. Through our partnership with LAAS and PFL, Rory to the Rescue and Angel City Pit Bulls, we are proud to offer these amazing partners monthly rescue flights at no cost. During our visit to LA Animal Services, we were excited to walk out of the shelter with PFL team member, Rita Blackwell and a delightful 8-month-old Border Collie mix. From there, the cute little dog spent the next few days at the PFL Pet Innovation Center where she got spayed and was put up for adoption.

Each shelter visit serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of partnerships and collaborative efforts. Witnessing the struggles faced by our shelter partners firsthand reinforces the significance of our mission. Our commitment to providing transport support is crucial for the survival of animals waiting in overcrowded shelters. We express deep gratitude to our remarkable rescue partners who, through collective effort, ensure these animals have the opportunity to find their forever homes. Despite the vast distances (thousands of miles) that span our network of shelters, our sense of partnership grows stronger with each passing year as we continue to work together year after year.

Looking to the future

Looking ahead to 2024, we are fueled by ambitious goals. Our two rescue planes will take flight five to seven days a week, serving over 200 partners stretching from coast to coast and border to border, nationwide! Our mission to help save more shelter pets will see us covering all corners of the continental United States, with over 120 flights planned to fly more than 6,000 animals to adopters and rescue partners. We invite you to join us on this journey as we strive to secure deserving animals the loving homes they truly deserve.

Every animal we fly does not just save one life—it saves two: the one that is rescued and the one that takes its place in the shelter. In essence, the 30,000 shelter pets we have flown since 2012 is more like 60,000 lives saved. We would love to get them all together in one room, but we would need a stadium for this fun filled event!