21 09, 2020

Feel-Good Story: Dog Is My CoPilot Saves Thousands of Dogs Each Year

By |2020-09-21T16:25:29-06:00September 21st, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Have you ever wondered how dogs get into shelters or foster homes? We, like most people, thought that animals available for adoption arrived at shelters after being picked up by local animal control. As it turns out, there’s a very different but heartwarming story behind how thousands of pets find their forever homes every year. And, per usual, it involves getting dogs on planes.

The nonprofit organization Dog Is My CoPilot, founded by Peter Rork, transports adoptable animals from parts of the country with high euthanasia rates. Rork locates these areas, then delivers animals from those local shelters to parts of the country with high adoption rates, including the American Southwest, the Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Pacific region.

In a Washington Post story published earlier this year, Rork estimated that he had saved nearly 16,000 animals in around eight years.

Rork, a former doctor, has dedicated his retirement years to saving cats and dogs from being euthanized. He told the Washington Post that he’d always loved aviation, having earned his pilot’s license at 16 years old, and starting a nonprofit organization felt like the perfect fit.


A High-Stakes Journey

For many of the animals Peter Rork transports, getting onto a plane is a life-or-death matter. According to Sharon Lohman, who has her own nonprofit organization, New Beginnings, the animals were desperate to be moved: “If we stop moving them out, they die. It is life or death,” she told the Washington Post.

Dog Is My CoPilot has grown from transferring 20 to 30 animals at a time to flying between 150 to 250 in a single trip. With a now-upgraded airplane, added staff, and some additional funding from the Petco Foundation, the organization has charged headfirst into the pandemic pet adoption trend.

“We had a large backlog of animals after we had a lot of canceled flights,” Rork told the Washington Post in August. “We’re now busier than ever and have been flying every single day.”

So, if you live in the American west and always wondered how the local kennel received dogs from hundreds of miles away, you now have your answer: Peter Rork, a nonprofit organization, and airplanes full of dogs. If you’ve recently adopted an animal, especially during the pandemic, check with your shelter to see where they came from. In some cases, it might just be Dog Is My CoPilot.

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21 08, 2020

Tips for a Pet-Friendly COVID-19 Road Trip

By |2020-08-21T09:03:36-06:00August 21st, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

It’s been half a year since any of us boarded a plane for a leisurely vacation. But, nearly six months into the pandemic, folks are itching to travel. While planes are currently a relatively safe option, we know that most are still hesitant to spend hours in a confined space with a bunch of strangers. Instead, people are ditching their boarding passes and embarking on road trips – sometimes just a few states over, sometimes across the country. The road-tripping trend is so strong that Americans are buying “COVID Cars” to travel as safely and flexibly as possible.

This type of travel forces a confluence of pandemic trends – pet adoption and car buying. We know that you’ll want to bring Fido or Fluffy along for the impromptu vacation, but there are a few steps you’ll want to take before jumping on the road. Here are a few things to consider.


Preventing Heat Stroke in Pets

Bringing your pet on a road trip means, at some point or another, you’ll consider leaving him in a parked car. We want to caution all pet parents against this. Vehicle temperatures rise very quickly, and heat stroke can be deadly for animals. Even if you’re dashing out to pick something up, you risk your pet’s life by leaving them in the car.

However, we understand that you’ll need to leave your pet in the vehicle when doing tasks like pumping gas. If this is the case, remember to crack the windows and closely monitor your pet’s behavior. If possible, pour some water into a bowl while the car is stopped. This gives your animal the option to re-hydrate if they begin to feel too hot.


Remember to Stop for Breaks

While you may be comfortable driving for 12 hours straight, Fido won’t. If you have a dog in the car, you’ll want to stop for a break every couple of hours. It doesn’t have to be long, and your pet doesn’t even need to use the bathroom. The opportunity for an animal to stretch their legs, run around, and get some water will make the journey that much safer and more enjoyable.


Set Up a Pet-Friendly Car Space

You’ll want to clear a space in your car for your pet to comfortably rest. Think about the minimum airline kennel size for an animal; your pet should be able to stand up, sit down, and spin around in this space without difficulty. We suggest folding down or removing a seat to create this pet-friendly space. Cover the floor with a blanket and pee pad, just in case.

We also suggest investing in a car safety harness or seat belt for your pup. We know most folks won’t keep their animal buckled in for the entire trip, but you’ll want to make sure he’s strapped in for especially treacherous parts of the journey – like driving through cities with lots of starts and stops.


Understand Your Pet’s Limits

Some animals feel like they’re built to travel. They don’t have a problem staying the car, and they always seem to have a good attitude. On the other hand, some animals don’t have the temperament for a long-distance road trip. Before setting out on your trip, you’ll need to think hard about your pet’s limitations. Does it make sense to bring them, or will they be happier at home?

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28 07, 2020

Air Travel and COVID-19 – Will Pet Travel Change?

By |2020-07-28T08:02:31-06:00July 28th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Air travel looks a bit different these days. As the United States enters another spike in COVID-19 cases, airlines are beginning to introduce additional safety plans to their regular operations. From not allowing passengers to sit in middle seats to requiring masks for all aboard the aircraft, commercial air travel is going to be a lot more spacious for quite a while.

But while air travel for humans is changing, pet travel is still functioning similarly to how it did in pre-pandemic times. Some airlines are changing things up a bit, but for the most part, you shouldn’t expect to see much – if any – difference when you bring Fido on your flight.

Still, it helps to hash out what airlines are specifically commenting on pet travel. Below, we’ve detailed the most prescient information we’ve been able to find, as well as what pandemic flying could do to the pet travel industry farther down the road.


What We Know

For the most part, it doesn’t seem that airlines are prioritizing pet travel changes when conceptualizing their COVID-19 policies. For example, carry-on pets, service dogs, and emotional support animals are still allowed to fly in the cabin on American Airlines if they meet the airline’s requirements. Commercial airlines see a lot of animals traveling, but with fewer people in the cabin, there are fewer animals overall in the air.

If anything, fewer passengers in the cabin will be more accommodating to animals. With additional space between each passenger, perhaps maximum height and weight requirements will shift a few months down the road. And, with nobody occupying the middle seat, maybe your service dog will finally get his own chair for the duration of the flight.


Changes to Pet Travel Services

While commercial airline pet policies aren’t changing much, services designated for pet travel, like Happy Tails Travel, look a bit different. The company has been developing a model for private, customized ground travel for animals throughout the contiguous United States. Citing the “unprecedented” demand for an alternative to air travel, the company is expanding its operations to include these ground transport options. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more businesses moving in this direction going forward. Pet parents understand the risks of flying during the pandemic, and they’re looking for cost-effective alternatives.


Looking Forward for Pet Travel

The COVID-19 contingency plans developed and published by airlines are temporary. We don’t know much about the decision making happening in the board rooms, and we don’t know when these measures will be lifted. In all honesty, we expect them to lift before it’s safe to do so. But, for now, when there are fewer people in the air, more safety measures practiced on flights, and more space between passengers, it seems like it’s a surprisingly good time to travel with a pet. That said, check back in a few months. Prevention fatigue is real, and even the most well-meaning airlines will ease up on their safety measures eventually.

In the distant future, depending on how long the pandemic lasts, COVID-19 precautions may change the way we fly. The United States revamped its entire flight security process in the wake of the 2001 attacks. Who’s to say something like that won’t happen in a post-coronavirus world? If, when all of this is over, airlines continue to prioritize passenger safety – including the safety of their furry friends – air travel will look a lot different in 2030 than it does in 2020.

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22 06, 2020

How to Go Back to Work with a New Pet at Home

By |2020-06-22T10:49:48-06:00June 22nd, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

It’s no secret: Pet adoption is a quarantine trend. These adoptions have been so popular during the coronavirus pandemic that some shelters have been completely cleared of their cats and dogs. With lots of time, few opportunities to hang out with others, and an increasing need to justify going outside, people around the world are settling into life with a new furry friend.

However, as coronavirus-related restrictions begin to lift, some pet owners are trying to navigate the transition from work-from-home to in-office schedules. The sudden change can be traumatic for new pets, especially those with troubled pasts. If you’re wondering how to best help your dog through this tough transitional period, we have a few tips to share.


Tips for Transitioning Back to Working from the Office

Most experts agree that transitioning into working from an office will be a lot easier on cats than it will be on dogs. That said, here are some tips that broadly apply to all sorts of animals – whether you’ve adopted a cat, a dog, a bird, or anything in between.

  • Move slowly. Slowly start to leave your pet at home alone for a few hours at a time. This can help prepare them for the longer stretches of loneliness they are likely to experience.
  • Have your schedule down. Many animals respond well to structure. Even if you’re not working from the office yet, begin to set a schedule that will resemble your day when you return to work. This means waking up early for walks, having extended periods of time separated from the animal within the house, and afternoon/evening walks at the same time every day. If you begin working from the office for only a few days each week, make sure you arrive home at the same time every day.
  • Monitor their food intake. Animals are spending more time with their humans these days, which means they’re probably more active than usual. This means they’re likely eating more food. As you transition back to work, try to ensure you don’t over-feed your animal.
  • Figure out your care plan. Many animals – dogs, specifically – will need a mid-day walk, or at least some outside time in the early afternoon. If you’re a new pet owner, you might not yet have relationships in place to address this need. If you know your work requires you to be out of the house for most of the day, hire a dog walker to make sure Fido gets outside at least once during work hours.


How to Train Your Dog for Travel

Safe recreational air travel is still several weeks, if not months, away, but we know many new pet parents are eager to start exploring the world with their pups. Luckily, there are a few ways new pet owners can prepare their pets for travel – without even purchasing a plane ticket.

  • Work on kennel training. Kennel training involves teaching your dog to see their crate as a safe space. Often, a familiar space will provide a lot of comfort for dogs in otherwise unfamiliar settings. Kennel training can take weeks, so start now.
  • Make sure your pup is potty trained. Adopted puppies might still be new to this whole peeing outside Airlines will be quick to dismiss your dog if they misbehave, so make sure your dog is properly potty trained before buying any tickets.
  • Go for a long drive. If you have a car, take your dog on an extended drive in the next few weeks. This can help simulate the experience of being on an airplane. Estimate how much time they’ll need to go without using the restroom (the duration of the flight plus the time it takes to go through security) and make your drive at least that long.
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14 05, 2020

Why Are Miniature Horses Allowed on Planes?

By |2020-04-13T10:09:33-06:00May 14th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

When the Department of Transportation released its 28-page proposal to limit the types of animals allowed on planes, it highlighted three species that would be allowed. The first two were obvious choices: cats and dogs. The third? Miniature horses.

The document often includes miniature horses as a “commonly recognized service animal.” This, surprisingly, is true. While service horses continue to be a rare sight on planes, especially when compared to cats and dogs, they are a popular choice of service animal. But why?

Why Miniature Horses are Used as Service Animals

As it turns out, horses can perform the tasks often required of service dogs – often to a better and more effective end. For example, guide horses are a popular choice among blind people. They are fast learners and have mild personalities. Plus, horses, unlike dogs, have nearly 360-degree vision, and they may be able to offer balance support to people who may also need help with a physical disability. This makes them a very attractive choice.

Longer lifespans also make horses a popular service animal pick. Service dogs may be able to serve for between 8 and 10 years, but miniature horses can live for up to 40 years. This minimizes the number of hours trainers need to spend on individual horses while providing a person with disabilities a near life-long companion.

Service horses are also great for travel. They are small enough to be transported in a hatch-back car, and they can be trained to defecate into a plastic bag. That said, airlines continue to squeeze as many people as possible into airplanes, dramatically reducing the amount of space between rows of seats. This poses a challenge to passengers traveling with service horses. In some cases, these passengers may be required to upgrade to business class to provide room for their animals.

Looking Forward: Will We Still See Miniature Horses on Planes?

Many people with disabilities who use service horses hope that the Department of Transportation regulations streamline their travel experiences. People typically call the airline to let them know they will be traveling with a horse, but often, airlines respond that there is no room for the furry friend. Horse users hope the proposed rules would discourage this behavior, as horses would be recognized as an official service animal option.

A growing number of emotional support animals have emerged in recent years, including rabbits, peacocks, and monkeys. But horses have been popular for decades, and they will likely remain popular for decades to come.


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28 04, 2020

How to Safely Transport Your Pet to the Vet

By |2020-04-13T10:21:24-06:00April 28th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Image provided courtesy of the Indianapolis Star.

As novel coronavirus spreads around the world, lives are changing with increasing frequency and severity. Still, pets get sick, dogs eat things they shouldn’t eat, and animal hospitals continue to be an essential service. If you find yourself needing to visit the veterinarian in the next few months, you may be wondering how to safely transport your pet to the animal hospital. Below, we’ve outlined the benefits and disadvantages of several transportation options, depending on where you live, transit accessibility, and budget.  

Drive Your Pet to the Hospital  

As always, driving your pet to the animal hospital is the safest option. You nearly eliminate the risk of exposing yourself or others to the virus, and you can ride in the comfort of your own vehicle. If you have the resources, this is the best way to safely transport your pet to the vet. If you have a close friend or family member who owns a car, consider asking them for a ride or to borrow the vehicle for a few hours.  

Rideshare Options and Public Transportation 

Uber and Lyft are still widely available transportation options in urban areas, but you’ll want to take additional precautions when getting into a car. If you have the equipment, wear a mask and gloves, then wash your hands thoroughly both before and after stepping into the vehicle. However, pet parents should be prepared to spend a bit more money than usual on a rideshare car. As fewer drivers are on the roads, there is an increased demand for private transportation, even though overall rides are down across the country. That means the drivers currently out can command a slightly higher price, as calculated by the Uber or Lyft algorithm. Additionally, if you take a rideshare car to the animal hospital, it is important to follow typical pet etiquette, such as contacting the driver prior to pickup and offering to cancel the ride if they are uncomfortable with animals in the care.  

Public transportation can be another option for pet parents low on cash or other options. If your pet is small enough to ride in a carry-on container, you can easily bring them aboard a bus or train. These services are seeing all-time low ridership numbers, which means you won’t have a problem staying at least six feet apart from other customers. As always, though, you should thoroughly clean your hands and your pet’s cage after riding, and consider wearing a mask and gloves to protect yourself and others. 

Call the Hospital to Request Transportation 

While uncommon, some animal hospitals are providing pick-up and drop-off services to clients in some parts of the country. This can be a safe and convenient method of getting your pup to and from the hospital for treatment. To see if your hospital is providing this service, call ahead before scheduling an appointment. In most cases, this service has been offered in dense urban centers, where most pet parents won’t have access to a personal vehicle.  

Understanding Your Pet’s Health 

The coronavirus outbreak has changed most of our lives, most drastically impacting the way we spend our time. Many people are now working from home and adapting to more flexible schedules. As stay-at-home orders and social distancing practices continue through the spring, some pet parents might see this as an opportunity to cross some items off their to-do lists. If you find yourself wanting to schedule Fido or Fluffy’s annual vet visit, however, we encourage you to hold off. 

In most states, animal hospitals are designated as “essential,” which means their employees will continue to provide necessary services to pet parents in need. However, most hospitals will only be completing emergency exams and surgeries, pushing elective surgeries and general check-ups later into the year. If, however, your veterinarian is continuing to see regular patients, and you’ve been meaning to get your pup in for their annual physical, stop to think about your options. Bringing your pet for an unnecessary visit has the potential to expose either yourself or the staff to the novel coronavirus. To that end, many animal hospitals, like those dealing with COVID-19, are running extremely low on personal protective equipment, like gloves and masks. The fewer reasons they have to use this equipment, the more safety they ensure when they actually need it.  

Of course, if your dog or cat is in danger – whether they’ve ingested something, aren’t behaving normally, or have an otherwise unusual symptom – go to the veterinarian. If you’re trying to schedule a dental appointment, think about holding off for a few months.  


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