I Work With Animals! Jan Folk Flies Dogs to Safety and New Homes
Jan Folk with supporter Kevin Costner. Orange Dog / Freedom Flights.
Title: Founder, Orange Dog and Freedom Flights
Jan Folk not only owns the Orange Dog, a Canadian online boutique specializing in high-end products for dogs and humans, but she uses those profits to run Freedom Flights, a charity that takes dogs at risk of being euthanized in California and delivers them to a no-kill shelter in Canada to find new homes.
The charity, which works through an agreement with private airline Global Exec Aviation, has made headlines recently thanks to an endorsement from Kevin Costner, who recently flew with Folk on one of the flights.
Why did you start Orange Dog?
When my business partner and I sold our company, I thought it was a little early in my life to retire, so I began wondering what I was going to do next. In 2009, a friend came to see me and said that you're obviously a fanatic about dogs, and you live in Orange County part-time, (my other home is in Edmonton Alberta), why don't you start a store and call it Orange Dog? Later on we found out that it is the universal color for animal rescue, but that was a lucky coincidence; we had no idea at the time. We decided to start a web-based company. I'm very proud of the fact that 100 percent of the store's profits go to help the dogs.
How did Freedom Flights begin?
I sit on the board of the local Humane Society in Edmonton, and one day when I was speaking with the executive director, she said what would really help is if I could find a plane they could have access to and bring in dogs so they could get them adopted. I thought that was a good idea, not even really thinking it through, of course.
I had a marketing company put together a media plan, and we called them the Freedom Flights. The first flight we did was in June 2009, and we brought up 60 dogs. We bring them to Canada is because in California, the shelters always have an overabundance of dogs. Always. The shelters there unfortunately have to euthanize animals. That's why we take them to our Humane Society. As long as the animal is healthy, they aren't euthanized.
Tell me about your first Freedom Flight and how that motivated you to keep working.
It was absolutely amazing. The dogs were on this Gulfstream III, riding in the lap of luxury. I swear they acted like they knew they were going somewhere safe. When we got to Canada, the Humane Society was there to meet us, the media went crazy and everyone was happy. They took the dogs to the Humane Society, and within two to three weeks maximum, every one was adopted! This continues to happen time and again.
Even better, every time the California dogs come in, the adoptions of other dogs and cats also increase dramatically. It's a real bonus, and helps get a home for dogs that might not have been adopted.