Social Entrepreneurs Can Save Helpless Dogs, Too

Social entrepreneurship not only means helping our fellow human beings.

Nor does it only mean helping the natural environment.

Freedom Flights to Rescue Dogs

Social entrepreneurship means helping society in general – and all the various members that are part of it. Interestingly for Jan Folk, who describes herself as a social entrepreneur, our society also includes our canine friends, dogs. This is one of many successful entrepreneurs who have been helping animals in need.

Jan Folk was featured in a recent article of the Edmonton Journal, entitled ‘Woman of Vision: Jan Folk.’

The article describes Jan’s Freedom Flights as follows:

“The freedom flight, as it has been dubbed, is a rescue mission. Popular small breed dogs facing certain euthanasia in overcrowded California shelters are flown to Edmonton where they are quickly adopted from the humane society. It is organized and paid for by Edmonton businesswoman and philanthropist Jan Folk, who flies the dogs in her private luxury jet.”

Jan has brought over 300 dogs to safety, with support from the Edmonton Humane Society

Saving Dogs as Social Entrepreneurship?

As I read the article, I asked myself: But really, is this social entrepreneurship?

I read on, and I would have to agree that it is. Particularly, as the article highlights that an estimated 500,000 dogs were euthanized in U.S. shelters in the past year. Now that’s alot of dogs to be put down, and I’m personally saddened by it.

It’s really unfortunate, especially as a dog-lover myself, and having my own dog friend named Rikki. (If you want to get a sense of the power of connection and friendship that can occur between a family and a dog, check out the movie Marley and Me. This movie certainly impacted me, and expresses how I also feel about the importance of dogs and pets in our lives.) With that in mind, the euthanasia of 500,000 dogs per year is shocking for me!

Jan comes from an entrepreneurial background, having owned and operated a group of companies worth $60-million, largely in the insurance brokerage field. Saving the helpless dogs fits very much with her own value for championing the underdog. She started her first company, opening up her own brokerage, after being fired from a previous boss.

She was first introduced to the innovative concept of the freedom flights to save the shelter dogs, when the Edmonton Human Society asked Jan for help after hearing that she lives part of the year in Hermosa, California, and that her jet was sometimes empty on flights to Edmonton.

“I do it because I can, because I want to and because they need help, and nobody else can help them,” says Jan, who celebrated her 57th birthday with this flight for 60 dogs. “These little pups are going to a home to be loved and not be hurt. I love it.”

Jan is also involved in other social entrepreneurial ventures. In January 2009, she founded Orange Dog, a web-based outlet for dog apparel and accessories that also promotes humane animal practices. Profits support the freedom flights.

“If there is a way that I can take the charity or whatever business I’m involved in to the next level and take a lot of good people with me, that’s what I live for…That’s what I wake up for in the morning.”

3 Lessons from Jan’s Social Entrepreneurship Experience

Overall, Jan’s experience shows you that you can and must be innovative in your approach to social entrepreneurship and therefore how to become one of the many successful entrepreneurs in the world.

  1. Think of ways in which resources are being underutilized (like Jan’s plane in her case).
  2. Then think how you can redirect those underutilized resources for the good of human- and animal-kind.
  3. Next, take action to make it happen!