This is Ollie, a Shih Tzu who escaped the tortuous conditions of a puppy mill in Ohio and got rescued.
Ollie was brought to a shelter in Florida and then adopted by his forever family. The only problem? His new parents lived in upstate New York and Ollie’s too young to drive. That’s when a hero stepped in—Batman, who fired up the Batmobile to deliver Ollie to his new home.
“Batman” (AKA Chris Van Dorn) is the founder of the animal rescue non-profit Batman4Paws. Van Dorn travels the country rescuing shelter animals and delivering them to new homes with loving families who will care for them, and he does it all in costume.
“The costume just makes everybody happy and smile,” Van Dorn told The Dodo. “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.”
Van Dorn grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series and looking up to superhero figures. He also grew up with a rescue pup of his own, an Australian shepherd named Mr. Boots who sometimes accompanies the Caped Crusader dressed as Robin.
Van Dorn credits his experience adopting Mr. Boots with sparking his interest in animal rescue, which is a much happier superhero origin story than watching your parents get gunned down in Crime Alley.
“As a child I looked up to the values that superheroes such as Batman reflected and thought that would be the perfect vessel to embody the spirit of goodwill,” Van Dorn wrote on his GoFundMe page. “Thus the crazy idea of Batman4Paws was born. I would help rescue animals in need anyway I can, all while dressed as the Dark Knight himself and becoming a symbol for helping those in need.”
He’s even got his own superhero motto. “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 said.
Even though he dresses like a billionaire vigilante, Van Dorn still manages to stay humble. “I would say I’m just the middleman,” he said. “The real heroes are the people giving these dogs a good, loving home.”
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Batman is glad to report yesterday’s rescue went off without a hitch. Trouble & Alana are safe and sound in their fur-ever home! They would be goners if it weren’t for @unitedpawsrescueinc, urgent cats of Central Florida, and @mish.n.cats . You all Rock!#AdoptDontShop #Batman #AnimalRescue #FureverHome
“Actions speak louder than words and I’m just doing my best to empty the cages,” Van Dorn said.
Van Dorn has a private pilot license and dreams of one day using it to fly dogs and cats to new homes. He started a GoFundMe to raise money for his efforts, and he’s well on his way to his goal.
Van Dorn also wants other people to know that can be heroes too. “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,” he said.
You can help Van Dorn rescue animals from kill shelters and bring them to forever homes here.