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Pilot Has Saved 16,000 Animals From Euthanasia By Flying Them To No-Kill Shelters

Dr. Peter Rork, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Wyoming, tragically lost his wife in 2012, and found himself suddenly without any direction in his life.

“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” he told Now This. “I was a lost soul. I was broken.”

But when a friend reminded him that his wife would want him to pull himself out of the pain he was feeling, Rork was inspired to find his new purpose: using his pilot's license to save shelter animals from euthanasia.

After taking a trip California that same year, the doctor-turned-pilot has his eyes opened to just how many animals are at risk of being put to sleep in shelters.

“When I saw how huge the problem was, I decided that's the way I wanted to go,” he said.

That's how he started the nonprofit Dog Is My CoPilot, which sees him honor his wife (a passionate animal lover) by giving some deserving four-legged friends a second chance at a happy life.

In its first year alone, DIMC transported 1,000 animals to no-kill shelters using a single-engine plane, but what began as occasional flights soon turned into weekly rescue trips.

Their "passenger" capacity quickly grew too, thanks to a grant that allowed for the purchase of a bigger plane. Soon the organization went from flying some 20-30 animals on board at a time to having over 100 dogs and cats hitching a life-saving ride in the sky, courtesy of Rork and his crew.

“It took us a couple years to really figure it out, we have the system down now,” he said.

Rork flies primarily to "code red" shelters in Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona where animals are at a high risk of being euthanized.

Those animals he picks up are then transferred to no-kill shelters in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

“We only transport from facilities that use euthanasia as part of their tool to control population to organizations that will never put down animals,” Rork explained.

Since 2012, DIMC has saved an estimated 16,000 animals from being euthanized in shelters.

But despite this incredible achievement, Rork refuses to accept all the praise.

“The real heroes here are the people who do go to the shelters everyday,” he said. “You’re never gonna find a group of more committed people than animal rescue groups.”

Donations and support from volunteers has helped Rork and his organization continue their amazing rescue missions.

After eight years of flying across the country to save as many in-need animals as he possibly can, his own three rescue pups, Rork can say with absolute that he has found a new direction for his life.

“They rescued me," he told Now This. "Every dog that I transport, I owe them something.”

For more information about the nonprofit Dog Is My CoPilot, make sure to check out their website and official Facebook page.

h/t: Now This, Facebook | Dog Is My CoPilot, Inc