A homeless pit bull named Koko arrived at the Pet Source Center of Tampa, patiently waiting for her forever family.
But before that day came — she was put on the euthanasia list.
And with just an hour left to live, Koko was pulled from the shelter by her foster mom — months later finding her a forever home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
But sadly she had no way of getting there.
Until the Dark Knight decided to make an appearance aka Chris Van Dorn himself — founder of the animal rescue nonprofit Batman4Paws.
After an eight-hour road trip dressed as Batman is just another day for Van Dorn.
“I would say I’m just the middleman,” Van Dorn told The Dodo. “The real heroes are the people giving these dogs a good, loving home.”
Koko is one of many whom Van Dorn has helped transport from overcrowded shelters to the safety of their forever homes.
And while “being” Batman is not a requirement to save an animal’s life, it helped Van Dorn start a conversation about adoption as well as fostering.
“The costume just makes everybody happy and smile,” Van Dorn said. “It’s special to see Batman walking around, and when they find out that he’s doing a good deed in the world they get even more excited. It kind of just came as a way to embody all the good I wanted to do in the world,” he added, “and make it easy for people to talk to me right off the bat.”
Van Dorn grew up watching Batman animated series and started to volunteer with animal rescues when his family adopted an Australian shepherd named Mr.Boots.
So when it came time for Van Dorn to start his own rescue organization, he decided to do it as Batman with Mr. Boots occasionally stepping in as Robin.
And just like every superhero has a secret identify — Van Dorn does too.
Dorn wears a mask to keep the focus on saving animals and less about the man behind the
“When I was first starting out, I was keeping everything really anonymous,” Van Dorn said. “I would sign everything ‘Bruce Wayne’ and not put my real name out there … My catchphrase is, ‘It’s not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me,’ and I still hold that true today.”
Van Dorn’s cover was then blown when GoFundMe honored his campaign, naming him as their GoFundMe Hero for May. Van Horn hopes to put his proviate pilot’s license to good use by purchasing a plane so he can fly the animals to their forever homes each week.
But in the interim, he is using his Batmobile and making a difference wherever he can.
“Actions speak louder than words and I’m just doing my best to empty the cages,” Van Dorn said. “And I challenge anyone to go to their local shelter because it’s a depressing place, but if you can help out in any way — whether that’s to foster a dog or adopt a dog or just volunteer your time, then you should go out and do it.”
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