The Big Dog Flies Year Round

It has been a busy few months and “The Big Dog” and our pilots have been flying thousands of miles transporting dogs and cats to safety! This winter represents a milestone as we keep one of our aircraft “wheels up”, actively supporting our partners in their year-round mission to save lives amid growing demand. Animal shelters across our nation are continuing to fill up as there are more dogs and cats entering shelters than leaving, and unfortunately many of our partners are packed to the brim. Our team witnessed this situation first hand during a recent visit we made to our shelter partners in Oklahoma and Texas. Shelters are reporting they are at capacity, forcing an increase in the number of dogs being euthanized due to space constraints.

Visiting our friends in Oklahoma

Our first stop brought us to Norman, Oklahoma, where we reunited with our partners at Norman Animal Welfare. Some of the best moments on our trip was meeting the staff at the shelters we visited. The team at Norman Animal Shelter was so welcoming and it was evident how committed they were to include their own community to help make a positive impact for animals. Our collaboration with Norman Animal Welfare spans two years, and we are immensely proud to continue supporting their efforts through our rescue flights.

Visiting one of our nations largest animal shelters

The heart of our journey lay in the Dallas Fort Worth area, where thousands of dogs enter shelters every month. Traveling across the two cities, we visited several shelters, and met some incredible people (and animals) along the way. Each animal entering these shelters carries a unique story — some are strays, others injured or abandoned, many arriving frightened and malnourished. Yet, amidst the challenges, every individual working in a shelter is driven by a profound passion and love for animals. Dallas Animal Services (DAS) is one of the nation’s largest intake shelters. Here we connected with old and new friends like John, one of the dedicated shelter employees at DAS. When we asked him “who was his favorite dog” he immediately took us to Chloe’s kennel. She was scared and overwhelmed, cowering in the back of her kennel. But the second John opened her kennel door and knelt down, Choloe’s entire body changed. Her tail was wagging and pushing her entire nose right into his body giving John the sweetest lick on his face. We also had so much fun connecting with Whiney, the director and founder of Hearts & Bones Rescue, another partner of ours while touring DAS. We once again witnessed firsthand that partnership and collaboration are essential to saving lives!

50 dogs get the “Golden Ticket”

The next stop on our tour was at Athens Animal Rescue in Athens, Texas. Here we were greeted by the sweetest dogs and volunteers in their play yards as we drove up to the shelter! As we walked through the small rural shelter that housed over 150 dogs on-site, each dog was wagging their tails, were calm and had a blanket and bed to lay on. This comfort item is an exception and not always available at all municipal shelters we visit. The best part of meeting this group of dogs was on their kennels were small tags that read, “TAGGED FOR RESCUE FLIGHT”. 50 of the dogs we met that day would board our plane, “The Big Dog” sponsored by Petco Love. They truly did get the “Golden Ticket” and many landed straight in loving adoptive homes in Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa. All of this is made possible by our amazing community of supporters, THANK YOU!

We can all make a difference if we work together!

We continued our travels visiting shelter partners in Montgomery and Fort Bend, Texas. These teams are incredible and working on very hard conditions to house the number of animals coming through their doors. As we journeyed homeward, we saw first hand that our mission to provide vital transport to overburdened shelters nationwide is making an impact.

Countless adoptable and healthy animals face the heartbreaking fate of euthanasia. The solution lies in adoption, fostering, volunteering, transport and donating. By opening your home to a furry companion, volunteering your time, or contributing to your local shelter, you play a pivotal role in alleviating the strain on our overcrowded shelters.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners across the country for their unwavering support in tackling the animal shelter crisis. It is through the dedication of shelter staff and volunteers nationwide that we can offer countless animals a chance at a brighter future in a loving forever home.

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!