Pilot saves unwanted dogs by flying them around the country
PHOENIX — Peter Rork feels like Santa Claus with his sled.
"I've got all kinds of goodies in back of my plane," he said.
Rork's co-pilot is Doyle. Doyle is his black Labrador retriever. Rork's sled is an airplane. And his "toys" sometimes bark.
Rork and Doyle live together in Wyoming. They spend their free time flying dogs and cats around the country. Their last plane ride included 30 small dogs. The dogs flew from Arizona. They went to an animal shelter in Idaho.
Two years ago, Rork started Dog Is My CoPilot. It flies dogs from one state to another. In one part of the country, there may be too many big dogs. They are sent to a place where there are too few. The idea is to find the animals new homes.
Puppies From The South
Arizona has too many Chihuahuas. People can't adopt them all, said Melissa Gable. She is with an animal shelter in Arizona. It is called Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. The shelter sends its Chihuahuas out of state. So, they'll be adopted quicker.
Dog is My CoPilot flies to 10 states in the Western United States. It began two years ago. In that time, Rork has flown more than 1,000 animals to no-kill shelters in other states. A no-kill shelter will not kill animals. Many shelters will kill animals that cannot be adopted. They also kill the animals when the shelter is full.
The shelters are not mean. They just cannot afford to care for all the animals.
How are dogs chosen? It comes down to supply and demand. Up North, for instance, there aren't enough puppies. So, the group may fly puppies from the South.
Leigh Carter works at HALO Animal Rescue. HALO is based in Arizona. It sent 30 dogs to Idaho on Friday. Already, 12 of them have been adopted.
Rork knows the dogs he leaves behind may be killed. So he tries to pack as many dogs into the plane as possible.
“It’s like a puzzle" trying to get all the dogs in the plane, he said. “It really is a labor of love and money, but I enjoy it.”