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Nonprofit Flies Animals Scheduled to be Euthanized to No-Kill Shelters Around the Country

SACRAMENTO -- According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters every year. These animals have only three options to leave local shelters: be adopted out, be transported to other facilities or be euthanized.

Too often, healthy animals are put down simply because there is no space for them. That's where Wyoming-based nonprofit "Dog is my Co-Pilot" comes in.

Tagged, crated and ready to go. Dogs are embarking on a life-saving journey.

"These dogs were all slated to be euthanized."

Until Tuesday, these 50 canines were on the "kill lists" at Oakland and Sonoma County Animal Services and Sacramento's Front Street Animal Shelter. Now they're being flown to a safe haven thanks to Wyoming-based nonprofit, "Dog is My Co-Pilot."

Founder and pilot Peter Rork takes the animals from overcrowded shelters to no-kill shelters across the nation.

He flies them on his Cesna plane at no charge.

"Today, these dogs are going to Boise, Idaho, and Sun Valley, Idaho," Rork said.

It's a perfect arrangement, really. Northern California shelters need more space. Facilities in other states not only have the space, but the people looking for breeds that have overpopulated in California.

"Really it's getting a new set of eyes to these animals. Getting an unusual breed into an area where they are not common. So when I fly chihuahuas out to Missoula, Portland, or Seattle, they fly off the shelves," Rork said.

All of the animals are guaranteed to have a better chance at life. Perhaps their only chance at life.

"It's a huge blessing for us," said Lori Rhoades with Front Street Animal Shelter.

Rhoades brought 24 dogs from Front Street to the Mather Jet Center, many of them with special needs.

"They took a couple of broken dogs from us, that have broken legs, fractured pelvis, because they have an orthopedic surgeon on site there," Rhoades said. "And they told me this week, that they have someone who does acupuncture."

Yes, dog, acupuncture. It's a service Front Street can only dream of providing. Only in Idaho, it's already a reality.

"You're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem.  And there's a lot of ways you can be a part of the solution," Rork said.

In five years, "Dog is My Co-Pilot" has flown more than 7,400 animals to no-kill shelters. You can donate to the nonprofit, here.