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Batman reunites dog in Tampa to family hundreds of miles away

Posted at 9:15 AM, Apr 20, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — A dog without a way back home ended up in the hands of a superhero to return to its family.

Set up in his Batmobile for animals, Chris Van Dorn is not your average superhero. Better known as Batman, the Florida man is behind Batman4Paws, an Orlando-based nonprofit that rescues and transports animals in need.

“When I was thinking like, ‘Oh, if I started a nonprofit, what would I want it to embody?’ Batman came to my mind,” said Van Dorn. “So I was like, ‘Hey, why don’t I rescue animals dressed as Batman?'”

His mission on Monday was to get a dog back to its owner. The Pet Resource Center in Tampa says it took the dog in as a stray in January. The dog had a microchip, and they were eventually able to track down the owner all the way to North Carolina.

The owner wasn’t able to come to pick up the dog themselves, so that's when the shelter connected with Van Dorn.

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“We don’t have the ability to transport, so having someone like Chris with his 501(c)(3) to be able to just transport animals all over is amazing,” said Lauryn Postiglione, a program coordinator for the Pet Resource Center. “It gave [the dog] a way to get back to his owner and be able to be reunited and just be the happy dog that he is.”

Armed with his utility belt full of dog treats, Van Dorn picked up the dog and started the trek hundreds of miles away to reunite the man’s best friend with family.

“I’m lost for words because I’ve never heard of anything like ever this happening before,” said Yolanda Johnson.


Johnson is the dog’s owner and says his name is Monster. She explained the dog ended up in Tampa, but with a baby on the way and no one to get him for her, she didn’t think she’d ever get her dog back. Instead, she expects to finally be reunited in a matter of hours.

“I am patiently waiting to see my big boy,” said Johnson. “I’ve missed him so much, so I’m just so excited. I can’t even describe how excited I am right now about having him back home.”

Van Dorn serves with the motto, "Til every cage is empty," while also advocating for adoption at local shelters. He says dressing as Batman helps get his message out, all while saving the day for families one animal at a time.

“You don’t have to have superpowers to give a dog a second chance and be that whole dog’s world. You save that one dog, you save that whole world entire for that one animal,” said Van Dorn.

This story was originally published by Mary O'Connell at WFTS.