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Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) newest transport volunteer program, Canine Copilots, has reached new heights! The first two volunteer transport flights successfully delivered their precious cargo – future Service Dogs in training Rowan and Liberty, while saving DBL hours of staff time and expense. Our dedicated volunteer pilots exemplify the power of collaboration and community support in making a difference.

Pilot Martyn poses with DBL Puppy Raiser Sheila and Rowan before the first flight.

The Inaugural Flight with Rowan

The first Canine Copilots flight happened on August 10th, and was piloted by Martyn, a private pilot and business owner. Martyn generously volunteered his time and aircraft to transport a future Assistance Dog Rowan. Rowan’s Puppy Raiser was on hand at the airfield to wish them a safe trip. The journey took Rowan from Santa Rosa, California, to Medford, Oregon, where he would begin his professional Assistance Dog training.

This flight not only saved valuable staff time but also reduced organizational resources. Typically, this trip would have required 16 hours of staff time and covered nearly 1,000 miles of roundtrip vehicle travel collectively. Thanks to Martyn’s volunteer flight, DBL’s costs for returning Rowan to our West Training Campus were reduced to zero, aside from a quick 10-minute trip from the campus to the airport for pickup.

Flying with Liberty

Pilot Yoram and his son Aidan pose with Liberty and Liberty’s Puppy Raiser Tania.

Our second transport on September 2nd featured volunteer pilot Yoram and his son Aidan. They flew from their home in Brentwood, CA to Santa Rosa, CA to pick up DBL puppy Liberty, and then flew her down to Liberty’s Puppy Raiser, Tania, in Ojai, CA.

For Yoram, DBL’s mission made it an easy decision to participate. He’s a professional pilot by day and our mission is important to him.  He has already expressed interest in participating in future flights with DBL.

Liberty had spent a few days with DBL’s Development Manager, Michael, and his family in preparation for the flight. Michael’s daughter Charlotte helped Liberty burn off some energy before the flight and took time for some pre-flight snuggles. Puppy Raiser Tania was all smiles when meeting Liberty at the airfield, marking the official start of their next 14-16 months together.

The Canine Copilots Program

DBL’s Canine Copilots program invites approved Flight Partners – pilots, aircraft owners, and fixed base operators- to be part of this incredible journey. When a puppy needs to be transported – either to a Puppy Raiser or to our Training Campus, Flight Partners receive notifications. All that is required from the Flight Partner is a simple reply to the notification, and DBL coordinates the rest.

Charlotte, daughter of DBL Development Manager, Michael, plays with Liberty before the flight to help Liberty burn off some energy.

Before each flight, puppies are given time to burn off energy and take care of nature’s call, ensuring a comfortable and mess-free trip. The puppies travel in small, size-appropriate crates, while larger adult dogs may be secured with a harness. DBL provides Flight Partners with comprehensive guidelines,  tips, and all supplies necessary to ensure each flight is safe and comfortable.

DBL’s greatest need for flight partners is to transport puppies to and from their campuses in Central Point, Oregon, and Falmouth, Massachusetts. Additionally, flights may be required to cities with a high concentration of volunteers. As the program continues to grow, DBL aims to expand its network of volunteer pilots, offering opportunities for those with shorter-range capabilities to make a significant impact.

With these two successful puppy transport flights, DBL’s Canine Copilots program is poised to reach even greater heights in its mission to provide Assistance Dogs and change more lives. Join us in celebrating this achievement and consider becoming a part of this incredible initiative that is truly changing lives, one flight at a time.

For more information about the Canine Copilots program and how you or your company can get involved, please visit DBL’s Canine Copilots Program.


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