In El Paso, a Texas terrier named Tumble enjoyed some fresh air as she struggled to cope with the heat. Most of the time this puppy was spent in a cage at Animal Services in El Paso. She was taken to a shelter after being found on the street, and her head was stuck in a fence.

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Usually, in any given year, this shelter received between 25,000 and 30,000 animals, said Kyla White, whose job was to help those animals get out of the shelter and find owners to house them. Unfortunately, there were far more dogs in El Paso than there were willing adoptive parents. It was a common story for shelters in several cities, but not in every city.

Peter Rork was shocked to see this. Peter was a retired orthopedic surgeon based in Jackson, Wyoming. He lived in a cocoon in Jackson where life was really good and everyone in the area had a dog where all the pets were well cared for and the shelters were empty.

Rock has loved dogs since he was a boy. He says that he liked dogs even more than some people he knew because they have a pure heart and soul.

Rork also happens to be a part-time pilot and co-founder of the non-profit Dog Is My CoPilot. When he retired from medicine, he realized that he could help connect some cities that have full shelters to cities full of willing adopters. He took the seats off his plane and headed for the sky.

Rork began his rescue flights in 2012, just months after the sudden death of his wife, Meg. He was too upset and desperately looking for a new direction.

Last week, 72 animals waited at Rork at El Paso Airport at 4 a.m., including a tired Tumble. After everyone was safely loaded on the plane, Rork undressed.

After stopping in Salt Lake City and Sun Valley, most of the animals landed in Troutdale, Oregon, just before Portland.
There, an army of volunteers waited to help unload the dogs and take them to their new homes.

Juli Zagrans, executive director of the rescue organization Portland, said she noticed a huge increase in interest because everyone was stuck at home during the pandemic.

She also finally found the Tumble’s forever home, where she was welcomed by Portland’s Andrea Fielder and Matt Schmidt. Their backyard pool is Tumble’s favorite place to hang out.

Back at the airport, Peter Rork marked his successful journey and he returned empty-handed.

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