“Til Every Cage Is Empty,” Batman Saves the Lives of Shelter Pets!

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on June 13, 2019

Over the years a number of notable men have donned the iconic cowl and cape of the legendary dark hero, Batman. Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and many others have made their mark and given us their own take on the caped crusader. Even Batdad has carved a place in our hearts. But not a single one has been as truly heroic as the Batman we’ve come to love the most – the one who fights for pets!



Chris Van Dorn is the hero we need right now! As a natural-born animal lover growing up in a home full of pets, Chris always had a big heart for our four-legged friends. He tells iHeartCats,

“I have to say ever since I can remember I’ve always had an affinity for animals and nature. I would watch Discovery channel, National Geographic, and had a subscription to Zoobooks as a kid.

“I think the three main things that swung me into rescuing animals though would be becoming Vegan at 21 after my neighbor showed me a bunch of animal rights documentaries, my rescue dog Mr. Boots who was a rescue through an awesome organization called Pilots and Paws, and wanting to use my own piloting skills to save animals like how Mr. Boots was rescued.”



His organization, Batman 4 Paws got off the ground in September 2018. Inspiration struck when his dad adopted Mr. Boots, an Australian Shepherd, with the help of an animal transport rescue. Chris, who was on his way to earning his own private pilot’s license was fascinated with the thought of helping animals too, by transporting them out of high-risk shelters and into the safety of no-kill facilities.

And now, he’s Batman. Accompanied by his own pup-wonder, Mr. Boots, he liberates cats and dogs from their kennels and takes them to safety. And he does it all in full, Bat-suited glory. In Florida. Even in the summer.


“There are definitely moments where I wish it were cooler and that I feel I might of picked the wrong state to wear a Batman costume in being in Orlando, Florida. But the feeling I get when delivering a dog to its forever home and seeing the faces of the owners when Batman is there to deliver their new family member far outweighs any discomfort I have to go through, in my book.”



The suit is definitely eye-catching, but it was never just some gimmick – it serves a great purpose!

“I decided on the idea of doing animal rescue as Batman while in the shower oddly enough. I remembered seeing a guy named Lenny Robinson who had a video go viral of him getting pulled over while dressed as Batman while he was on his way to volunteer at the children’s hospital. After seeing that video I always told myself if I ever made a million dollars I would want to do something like that to give back and make the world a better place. And while I didn’t make a million dollars I had enough to get a Batman suit and apply it to shine a light on animals in need.



“I originally had the idea to create a rescue called Animals and Aviators where I would have a team of rescue pilots flying animals around but I didn’t (and still don’t) know enough pilots to make that happen yet. Hopefully once I get my commercial Pilots license that idea can become a reality too. But the Batman idea basically struck me while thinking of a way to start an animal rescue by myself that would stand for doing the right thing, safety, and a way to network with rescuers to draw attention to animals in need.

“In addition, the suit allows for an instant connection for people to want to reach out and find out what Batman is doing which gives me an opportunity to educate them on the importance of adopting pets from their local shelter and not supporting puppy stores which helps create demand for puppy mills that mass produce puppies to sell to consumers.”



Where there is a dog waiting for someone to love him, he’ll be there. Where cats cry out in the night hoping for a home, he’ll be there. Where euthanasia rates are about to rocket, he’ll be there. When it seems hopeless, when time is running out, when shelter staff cry out for a hero – he’ll be there.

“Til every cage is empty.

“I will do everything in my power to help be a voice for the voiceless and get every dog cat, or animal in need to a safe loving environment.”

So far, Batman and Mr.Boots, who is now about 8 years old, have rescued numerous pets from death. Chris can’t be Batman 24/7, but neither could Bruce Wayne. He still works his day job, but hopes that some day he can save lives as a career.



“As of now I’ve saved over 20 cats and dogs. Still waiting for my first rescue pig transport request, farm animals need a caped crusader to transport them too.

“I’m still working 30 hours a week at my day job as an audio engineer and have to do a balancing act of taking off work some days to make transports happen, but have been able to fit more and more rescues into my schedule. When I first started my goal was to do just one rescue a month, but here I am in June and have already done 3 rescues within the last 3 weeks. So things are definitely picking up and I hope to do rescue full time eventually.”

Like other rescues, Batman’s most persistent nemeses have been funding and space. Batman 4 Paws relies on donations to get pets to safety. He prefers to fly, and rents a plane when he can, but most of his rescues are done on the ground. Space in his Batmobile is pretty limited, and though it gets pets from point A to point B, it can’t handle the big jobs. He hopes to be able to get into a bigger vehicle someday, so that he can transport more pets on the ground than he can now.



“I hope future plans include a donated van so I can transport more animals. (Give me a shout on www.Batman4Paws.org if you’d like to help Batman out.) My capacity now is 4 animals at a time and it’s a tight fit in a 2-door Honda Accord.

“In the future I would also like to enlist the help of volunteers to do transports while dressed as superheroes. So basically, there would be a nonprofit of superheroes that rescue animals. I think that would help draw a lot of attention to the cause and it wouldn’t just be focused on Batman.”

Batman may work alone, but Chris encourages everyone to be a superhero whatever way they can.


“I always say the number one thing someone can do is adopt a shelter or rescue pet and give him or her a loving home. If that’s not on the table then try and join a foster program to give the pets temporary asylum. If you can’t do that then volunteer your time at a local shelter, and if you don’t have the time then try and donate to the cause. If anyone would like to get involved in animal transport they should look into Doobert.com and if they’re pilots wanting to help, PilotsnPaws.org.”


Learn more about Chris and his mission at Batman4Paws.org and follow him on Facebook to see lots of pictures of his lucky transports on their freedom rides!

You can be a part of his work by donating to his cause at GoFundMe.com!


Featured Photo: Batman4Paws/Facebook