UCF Graduate Chris Van Dorn Channels Batman To Rescue Animals

(Photo Credit: GoFundMe)

Step aside Bruce Wayne.

Chris Van Dorn ’17 is the real hero Gotham — and Orlando — deserves.

Van Dorn’s mission to rescue animals dressed as Batman recently made national news, and bumped him closer to making his rescue mission a full-time opportunity.

“It all started in the shower,” said Van Dorn, a sociology alumnus. “I was in there one day and it just sort of hit me: ‘Why don’t I become the ultimate purveyor of justice while bringing attention to my cause?’”

Van Dorn’s origin story begins with his own pet rescue, an Australian Shepherd mix named Mr. Boots he found covered in ticks and fleas in the woods of Alabama. Whether Mr. Boots moonlights as the Robin to Van Dorn’s Batman remains a closely guarded secret, but neither Mr. Boots nor Robin have been seen in the same room together.

“His name is a little goofy to some people. We call him Mr. Boots because of his huge paws,” Van Dorn said.

Adopting Mr. Boots opened Van Dorn’s eyes to the dire situation many rescue animals face. On average, Orange County Animal Services in Orlando receives 50 animals a day, most of them abused, sick or stray. Nationwide, there are about 6,000 cases of dog abuse reported annually. Spurred by this, Van Dorn made it his mission to save the animals he could. And he adopted the Dark Knight as the ultimate symbol of justice.

“I was doing this in my free time, whenever I could basically, and then GoFundMe happened and things really took off,” Van Dorn said.

Popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe made Van Dorn their “Hero of the Month” for May of 2019, and featured him on their True Stories of Good People podcast as well. That support spurred a public outpouring that’s making it possible to dedicate more time to pet rescue.

“I am so blessed GoFundMe brought awareness to what I am doing. They thought what I was doing was cool, so they decided to help. I’ve raised over $30,000 now,” Van Dorn said.

The goal is to bring in more volunteers and build a “super brigade” of animal rescuers around Orlando and beyond. Van Dorn also hopes to buy an RV to make his work faster, comfortable and more efficient.

“Please,” urged Van Dorn. “If you want to get involved in animal rescue, adopt. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, volunteer. And if you can’t volunteer, find something you can do to make a difference.”






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