Peter Rork, a retired pilot and orthopedic surgeon, pursued an interest in rescue animals after his wife died four years ago.
“I lost my appetite for medicine,” he said, “and I had a plane at the time.”
He now transports “death row” dogs and cats from unwanted areas by plane every couple of weeks. His flights became so crowded with animal crates that he invested in a larger aircraft.
He recently had a record transport.
“This is the biggest response we've had so far,” Rork said. “It's the biggest dog flight we've flown into Denver.”
Rork, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, flies for Dog is My Copilot, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), Wyoming-based organization committed to flying animals out of areas with unsafe shelters. On May 4, he flew a Cessna 208B with more than 75 cats and dogs from New Mexico and Texas to Centennial Airport. About 50 rescue and shelter volunteers waited with handmade signs, crates, playpens and open arms.
Mercedes Cordova, founder of From Forgotten to Forever Rescue and Transport, works with Dog is My Copilot to move shelter animals from Roswell, New Mexico, to Colorado to save them from euthanization.
“There's a 90 percent euthanization rate,” she said. “Most don't make it. So we transport every couple of weeks.”
Cordova, of Colorado Springs, works closely with rescues throughout Colorado. Rescue and foster volunteers, such as Suzanne Lively, admire Cordova's dedication to animals.
“She single-handedly has saved so many dogs,” Lively said. “She's my hero.”
Animal rescues look to Colorado because of the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, a “licensing and inspection program dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of those animals in pet-care facilities throughout Colorado,” according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture website.
PACFA regulates rescue facilities and requires that animals be documented in state records, said Cordova.
Jamie Roberson, founder of Denver Dachshunds Rescue and Transport, picked up chiweenies — a dachshund and chihuahua mix — at the latest transport. Her goal is to save dogs from being euthanized and place them in safe homes.
“There's always kids in need,” she said, referring to the rescue dogs. “And Colorado is more animal friendly.”
For more information about Dog is my Copilot go to www.dogcopilot.org