This weekend, the Denison Animal Welfare Group will take to the skies in search of forever homes for local animals in need. The welfare group announced a partnership this week with Dog is my CoPilot, a nonprofit that helps transport animals from high inflow shelters to areas of the country with high adoption rates.
“We’ve got into a relationship with Dog is My CoPilot,” DAWG President Stephanie Phillips said. “They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that transports dogs from high risk areas to partner shelters up north, and we’re super excited about this. We’ve bene working on it for years and we think it’s really going to be a game changer for animals in this area.
The new partnership for DAWG comes as it and other shelters and welfare groups have experienced high inflow of animals and low adoption rates that has resulted in capacity issues. This has led DAWG and other groups to look at alternative measures to control the local animal population and find homes for adoptable pets.
“It just doesn’t seem to end and it seems to be particularly bad right now,” Phillips said. “I don’t know if that’s attributable to a lot of economic factors that people are dealing with. I think more than that it might be attributable to the population increasing in our area. We just can hardly keep up.”
Dog is my CoPilot, which is based in Wyoming, formed about a decade ago through a group of pilots who wanted to assist shelters by offering animal transports via air at no cost. Since its inception, the group has partnered with more than 150 shelters and transported 24,000 animals in search of their new home.
“Imagine a world without euthanasia, a world where every animal has a home, where shelters don’t suffer overcrowding and where healthy animals don’t face euthanasia,” the group said on its website. “That world is DIMC’s vision but until it becomes a reality, DIMC will work tirelessly to save as many dogs and cats as possible from euthanasia.”
DAWG, by comparison has transported more than 8,500 animals from its shelters in Denison, but all of these were done through ground transport. In recent years, the group has invested in a new vehicle in order to run regular trips with dozens of animals to Minnesota and neighboring areas where they will have a better chance at being adopted. However, these bi-weekly trips travel a long road that can be stressful for the animals, Phillips said.
“We continue to be busting at the seams and every week, weekend we’re out doing ground transports. We’ve transported ourselves 8,500 animals since 2015, but it’s not enough,” Phillips said.
One of the hurdles that DAWG needed to surpass in order to work with Dog is my CoPilot was to prove the demand for services. Traditionally, the group needs to transport between 50 and 60 animals for it to be viable. However, DAWG’s logs from ground transport proved it had enough inflow to warrant the partnership. However, the recent inflow and number of trips the shelter needs to make helped it in forming the partnership.
The first flight under this partnership left Texoma Skies early Saturday morning at around 4:30 a.m. Volunteers began shuttling animals to North Texas Airport more than an hour earlier where they began the boarding process for for destinations including Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hopefully for all, this will be a one-way trip.
Phillips said she still expects to run the ground transports for the foreseeable future due to demand. However, the partnership could help alleviate some of the issues seen locally.
“I think once we get it going, it’s going to mean a lot for our area, not just Denison, but a lot of surrounding areas that don’t have any resources at all,” she said.
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