Bunny, an American bulldog with five puppies, was scheduled for certain death at a pound in West Texas … until the Dog is My Copilot program came to the rescue
Dorothy N. Fowler
At 7:15 a.m. tears were flowing freely down the faces of Gina Beard and Shelly Chesser as Philip Rork’s plane, with its Dog is My Copilot logo on the tail, lifted off from Lea Regional Airport Friday morning.
Rork, one of the founders of Dog is my Copilot and chief pilot for the organization, was taking off from the airport for the third time this year, this time to deliver a record cargo to places as remote as Salt Lake City.
It was loaded with 63 animals rescued fromthe streets or from shelters in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico that kill stray animals not claimed by their owners or adopted by other families.
“I’m crying for Bunny,” Shelly Chesser said. “But I’m so glad she’s going to a good new home.”
Beard found Bunny, an American bulldog, and her five puppies in the pound in Denver City several weeks ago, scheduled for certain death.
She was starved to the point that her rescuer could count her ribs and she was weak from hunger. Nevertheless, she was feeding her five babies, Chesser said.
“She gained eight pounds in a week. We fed her eggs and other good food,” Chesser said.
But the five puppies, already compromised by the circumstances of their birth, contracted parvo and two of them died. The surviving three remain at a local veterinarian’s office for treatment. If they survive, they will eventually be transported to shelters in Colorado, Montana or Arizona.
“We were were able to save Bunny,” Chesser said. “I wish her babies could have gone with her.”
Friday’s Dog is My Copilot flight was the third from Hobbs. In May, the plane took 95 dogs from Hobbs and other towns in Lea County as well the west Texas towns of Seagraves, Denver City, Midland and Odessa.
Rork expected to pick up at least 42 more animals when he landed in Roswell later Friday morning and take his cargo to Denver, Scottsdale, Az., or Salt Lake City.
Getting Rork to make a stop for animals in Hobbs was the result of a joint effort by Amazing Grace Pet Rescue, Reeds Ranch and Rescue, Freelance Rescue, Speaking Up for Those Who Can’t and other pet rescue organizations in the area.
Amber Reed, who works in a veterinarians office, said it is hard to imagine what animals endure at the hands of owners who either don’t know they are injuring an animal or don’t care.
She showed a picture on her phone of a dog who had been chained to a tree so long that its skin had grown over the chain.
“We had to cut the chain out,” she said, pointing out the red line all the way around the dog’s neck. “The smell of the infection was terrible. It would make you gag.”
Reed said the chief of police in Seagraves instituted a “no dog on a chain” policy after a dog died at the end of a chain and he had to remove the dog’s body.
“It’s slow, but we’re getting it done,” she said.
Alyson Dial, who lives in Midland, drove to Hobbs from Midland wth dogs that had been fostered there while waiting for the DIMC flight. She brought dogs not only from Midland, but also from Odessa and Ft. Stockton.
“We just abut cleared out the Ft. Stockton shelter,” she said.
Although there is always an abundance of dogs that have either strayed away from home or been abandoned by their owners, the number has increased since the downturn in the oil economy.
“It seems like people say, ‘Oh, well,’ and just turn their pets out to do the best they can for themselves,” she said.
Each of the pet rescue organizations depends on donations to do their work. Not only do they provide food for the animals who are in their care, they also take sick or injured animals to veterinarians for treatment. While most veterinarians provide significant price concessions to rescue groups, they vets must pay their utility bills, staff and other overhead, so they can’t possibly do as much pro bono work as is available for them.
Moreover, even though most shelters don’t charge rescue groups, some do. Midland, for example, charges $10 to cover the cost of rabies vaccinations and microchips. The fee to non-rescue adopters can be as much as $60.
Beard was eager for people to know that the animal rescue work is a continuous effort of many people from both New Mexico and Texas and that each of the groups needs both monetary contributions and volunteers to help with the work.
To learn more about Amazing Grace Pet Rescue and other animal rescue organizations in the area, look for Amazing Grace Pet Rescue on Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 575-631-6712.
Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at 575-391-5446 or by email.