This weekend, the Denison Animal Welfare Group will take off in search of forever homes for local animals in need. The welfare group this week announced a partnership with Dog is my CoPilot, a nonprofit that helps transport animals from high-influx shelters to areas of the country with high adoption rates.
“We have formed a relationship with Dog is My CoPilot,” said DAWG Chair Stephanie Phillips. “This is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that transports dogs from high-risk areas to partner shelters in the north, and we are very excited about it. We’ve been working on this for years and we think it’s going to be a real game-changer for the animals in this area.
The new partnership for DAWG comes as it and other shelters and welfare groups have experienced a high influx of animals and low adoption rates, leading to capacity issues. This has led the DAWG and other groups to seek 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 it’s due to many economic factors that people are facing. I think it could be more due to the increase in population in our area. We can barely keep up.
Wyoming-based Dog is my CoPilot was formed about a decade ago by a group of pilots who wanted to help shelters by offering free animal transportation by air. Since its inception, the group has partnered with more than 150 shelters and transported 24,000 animals in search of their new homes.
“Imagine a world without euthanasia, a world where every animal has a home, where shelters are not overcrowded, and healthy animals are not euthanized,” the group said on its website. “This world is DIMC’s vision, but until it becomes a reality, DIMC will work tirelessly to save as many dogs and cats from euthanasia as possible.”
DAWG, by comparison, transported more than 8,500 animals from its shelters in Denison, but it was all done by ground transportation. In recent years, the group has invested in a new vehicle to make regular trips with dozens of animals to Minnesota and surrounding areas where they will have a better chance of being adopted. However, these twice-weekly trips come a long way that can be stressful for the animals, Phillips said.
“We continue to be packed and every week, weekend, we do ground transportation. We’ve transported 8,500 animals ourselves since 2015, but that’s not enough,” Phillips said.
One of the hurdles DAWG had to overcome to work with Dog is my CoPilot was proving demand for services. Traditionally, the group needs to transport between 50 and 60 animals to be viable. However, DAWG’s logs from ground transportation proved it had enough influx to warrant the partnership. However, the recent influx and the number of trips the shelter has to make helped form the partnership.
The first flight under this partnership departed Texoma Skies early Saturday morning around 4:30 a.m. Volunteers began transporting animals to the North Texas airport more than an hour early, where they began the boarding process for destinations such as Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hopefully for everyone it will be a one-way trip.
Phillips said she still expects to handle ground transportation for the foreseeable future due to demand. However, the partnership could help alleviate some of the problems observed locally.
“I think once we get started it will mean a lot to our area, not just Denison, but a lot of surrounding areas that have no resources at all,” she said.