Flying Dogs to Safety
By Judy Zimet
Lucy and Ricky were out chasing cows one day and angered the ranchers with their raucous behavior. Animal Control captured the Labs and put them in a tiny eight-kennel shelter in rural Utah. Stigmatized as cattle agitators, nobody in town wanted them.
A California rescue organization was willing to take in and find new homes for Lucy and Ricky, but a 22-hour, 1400-mile round trip drive was an impossibility for the Utah rescuers. They called Dog Is My Copilot, who flew the dogs to safety.
Lily, Junior, Demetruis, Tucker, Dex, and many more Labs and Lab mixes, mostly black in color, have the misfortune of being born in an Idaho town that has an overabundance of Labs in shelters. Unfortunately, many are euthanized. While the supply in Idaho is high, and the demand is low, the opposite is true for Labs in the San Francisco area. The intakes at the San Francisco SPCA are mostly Chihuahuas and pit bulls. Few Labs are surrendered in comparison to the Labs requested. The supply and demand would be easily remedied by the Idaho Labs, except that the 26-hour, 1700-mile round trip via ground transport is impractical for the Idaho rescuers. To fix the problem, Dog Is My CoPilot regularly flies from Idaho to San Francisco, filling a Cessna 206 with dogs for San Francisco adopters.
Dog Is My CoPilot is a 501(c)3 approved nonprofit organization that rescues abandoned cats and dogs and flies them to “furever” homes. Dog Is My CoPilot (DIMC) decreases the number of animals killed in shelters and increases shelter adoption by flying animals to areas where they are more adoptable.
DIMC works with established nonprofit animal rescue organizations (AROs) to coordinate flights. AROs pull animals from open admission shelters and move them to safety in humane rescues, breed specific rescues, and foster/furever homes. When the distance the animals need to travel is too great for over-the-road transport, DIMC swoops in to fly them in a single-engine Cessna airplane with the seats pulled out.
DIMC makes every effort to fly as many animals on one flight as possible. This keeps costs down and saves more animals. DIMC coordinates with AROs with too many small dogs and too few large dogs, and AROs with too few small dogs and too many large dogs. By transporting large and small dogs to areas where they are more adoptable, more animals reach furever homes.
DIMC flies the Rocky Mountain and Pacific regions. As DIMC widens the geographic circle of potential homes, AROs will find homes for more abandoned animals. Also, by providing rescues with the types of animals adopters want, DIMC ensures adopters choose abandoned animals rather than purchase from online sellers and puppy mills.
Most of the routes are well established. DIMC flies a route from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Oakland, California; to Merced, California, to Provo and Logan, Utah, and Missoula, Montana, approximately twice a month, saving as many as 40 dogs each trip. DIMC also flies Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Rawlins, Wyoming; to Ft. Collins and Denver, Colorado, as well as Phoenix, Arizona, to Boise, Idaho; and Elko, Nevada, to Seattle, Washington. Routes are “built” to maximize lives saved, which means that the plane is almost always full. However, when there is space available, DIMC will accept single transports on board as long as the source and destination rescues are also nonprofit organizations recognized as tax-exempt by the federal government.
Dog Is My CoPilot’s website is www.dogcopilot.org. The Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/DogIsMyCoPilotInc. Information for pet owners, stories of rescue flights, and opportunities to support the organization are available on both sites.
Dog Is My CoPilot is the outgrowth of the generosity of Dr. Peter Rork, orthopedic surgeon, pilot, and dog lover who began donating his time and his Cessna 206 to animal rescue organizations in 2008. He envisioned a charitable organization that supports animal rescue organizations’ quest to find homes for animals. After the death of his wife, also an animal lover, Dr. Rork contacted Judy Zimet, an Arizona attorney and passionate animal lover with many years of experience launching, boosting and operating nonprofit organizations. They began Dog Is My CoPilot, in June 2012, received 501(c)3 status in August 2012, and by the close of 2012 logged 196 flying hours transporting abandoned cats and dogs to safety.
With an impressive Board of Directors, Dog Is My CoPilot is fully committed to its mission of flying animals to safety. Please go to http://www.dogcopilot.org to see how DIMC saves lives and to support its mission.