There are so many rescue animals out there who are holding out for a hero, and in some cases they really do get one.
For many people, their favourite superheroes provide lifelong inspiration, gifting them with a moral code by which they can interact with the world with a little more thoughtfulness.
Perhaps like Spider-Man you believe, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Or maybe you’re more of a Iron Man, living by the mantra of, ‘heroes are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with’.
But how often do we actually incorporate this moral guidance into the way we live our lives? How often do we step back and think about how we too can make a difference, supernatural abilities or not?
For Chris Van Dorn, his life’s work is deeply influenced by the words of Batman, and he is committed wholeheartedly to the logic of the caped crusader, ‘It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me’.
As the founder of the animal rescue non-profit Batman4Paws, Chris travels up and down America taking rescue animals to their new forever homes.
Oh, and he does it all while dressed head to toe as Batman…
Like every great superhero story, Batman4Paws has a brilliant – and rather emotional – backstory, which can be traced back to when his dad chose to adopt a rescue dog in 2014.
Detailing how inspiration struck on the Batman4Paws website, Chris revealed:
A quick search of the Internet turned up a wide-eyed, happy go lucky, super chill, tri-colored Australian Shepherd. It just so happened that this Australian Shepherd was no ordinary Aussie.
He had quite the back-story. He was found wandering around the woods in Alabama emaciated and covered in fleas and ticks.
With the help of Dog Liberator and another nonprofit named PilotsnPaws, as well as pilot extraordinaire Jeff Bennett, they organized and facilitated the transportation and rescue of this scruffy looking pooch.
As Jeff flew this motley looking Aussie to his new foster home he dubbed him Mr. Boots on account of his big old paws. It was coincidentally around this time that I was on the final stretch of earning my own Private Pilots License.
Mr.Boots’ story inspired Chris to combine his love of animals with his brand new piloting skills, and like many superheroes before him, he rose to the challenge:
It took me some major thinking while in the shower but it finally hit me and I came up with a way of taking my passion of flying and combining it with my love of animals.
Although Chris/Batman prefers to stick within 500 miles of his home in Orlando, Florida, he has been known to travel further afield if needed.
He will endeavour to get the pets to their new homes by any means necessary, but his favourite method of transport is – of course – flying.
As a kid, Chris admired values embodied by Bruce Wayne and so the act of putting on the bat suit to signify his principles is important to him.
To make my dream reality, I established Batman4Paws as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to rescue and transport dogs, cats, and other animals in need to furever homes, no-kill facilities, and foster homes throughout the state of Florida and beyond.
Transports are done personally by me (Batman!) using any means necessary, although I prefer to fly.
Chris has helped to raise vital awareness about the plight of rescue dogs, and actively encourages people to adopt rather than buy.
In May, he was named as GoFundMe’s hero of the month, a title this Canine Crusader truly deserves.
You can donate to the Batman4Paws GoFundMe page here.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.