When it comes to helping homeless pets, most of us adopt a pet, donate money to an animal cause, or volunteer at a shelter. Pilots, on the other hand, take it a step further. At least 2,500 pilots literally save homeless pets from death every week. When they hear about an animal that’s about to be euthanized, they pick it up and fly it to another shelter, where it can have a second chance at life. Those selfless animal-loving pilots are part of a non-profit organization called Pilots N Paws.
It all started in 2007 when a South Carolina animal rescuer named Debi Boies found a Doberman in Florida. She wanted to adopt it, so she asked her pilot friend, Jon Wehrenberg, to fly to Florida and bring it back for her. Wehrenberg happily obliged, and when he returned, a light bulb lit up over his head. He asked Boies, “Is there a need for this? Do you need to move animals through animal rescue work?” Alas, Pilots N Paws was born. Today, five years later, the organization has over 2,500 pilots flying all over the country. They have close relationships with nearly 12,000 animal rescue workers. To date, the lives of thousands and thousands of animals have been saved.
Not only does Pilots N Paws work with homeless pets, they also grant wishes for dying people whenever they can. Just less than 3 months ago, a cancer-stricken man in Pittsburgh who had only a few days left to live expressed his dying wish: to have his dog, Bailey, at his side. Bailey was 1,100 miles away, at the man’s home in Florida. When the man’s hospice caretaker found out about his wish, he contacted Pilots N Paws. The organization rolled up their sleeves and began making arrangements to fly Bailey to his loving owner. Because general aviation pilots couldn’t cover 1,100 miles alone, they needed multiple pilots who could fly 250 miles each. Four pilots – Rob Takacs, John Lee, Brad Childs, and Rob McMaster – stepped up and worked together to grant the dying man’s last wish. Bailey’s owner was able to spend three days with her until he passed away. You can read the whole story here.
Pilots N Paws is a remarkable group that inspires everyone everywhere. They always go the extra yard, each and every time. If you visit their website, you’ll see countless tear-jerking stories about the animals they’ve rescued. One story in particular is about pilot Scott Messinger, who transported his 1,000th animal last August. This is definitely an organization that deserves nationwide attention. The least we could do is to spread the word about them!