LOGAN, Utah — A small plane with more than two dozen passengers landed at the Logan-Cache Airport on April 26.
The passengers on board the Cessna aircraft weren’t ordinary jet setters. The plane was loaded with 23 animals rescued from overcrowded shelters in west Texas.
Dr. Pete Rork from Jackson, Wyoming, is the founder of Dog Is My Co-pilot.
He flies the plane to areas where animals face euthanasia and transports them to places like Utah where they are given a new lease on life.
“We provide transport for the groups in the south that are completely overrun,” Dr. Rork said. “They wouldn’t have made it to the end of the week.”
This flight began early in the morning in Denver City, Texas. After stops in Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado, 23 dogs were flown to Logan, where they were met by staff from the Cache Humane Society.
“These dogs today got the golden ticket. They are safe,” Dr. Rork said.
The dogs were taken to the Cache Humane facility where they received a bath and veterinary exam.
Now, they are up for adoption.
“We have fixed over 30,000 animals in our community. We are at a point now where we have more adopters than homeless animals and we are able to reach out to communities that need our help,” said Stacey Frisk, director of Cache Humane Society. “Most of these dogs will be in their next home in under two weeks.”
The Cache Humane Society has space in its shelter because of a high rate of spay and neutering in northern Utah.
That isn’t the case in other areas of the United States.
According to the ASPCA, about 920,000 adoptable pets are euthanized every year because there isn’t enough room in shelters in places like Texas, New Mexico and the central valley of California for animals that aren’t quickly adopted.
Dr. Rork is trying to chip away at that number by operating several flights each week.
His organization has two planes with plans to acquire a third. Pilots volunteer their free time to fly planes full of rescued animals. Here are some recent arrivals Dog Is My CoPilot posted on social media:
“Rescue is my favorite breed,” he said. “We are coming up on 22,000 lives saved. Anybody who has a dog at home completely gets where we are coming from.”
Originally, Dr. Rork planned to save 10,000 pets. He has kept going after eclipsing that total because the reason for his philanthropic work is so close to his heart.
“The event that got me out of medicine is that my wife suddenly died 10 years ago and that was it for me. I was devoured by such grief,” he said.
Dogs rescued Dr. Rork from a dark space.
“The dogs pulled me out of a dark hole, they did me a favor,” he said.
Now, he’s rescuing them, one flight at a time.
“I am sure she is watching and I am sure she’d be very pleased,” Dr. Rork said.