Pilots N Paws Featured In Bone Up! Magazine
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Pilots N Paws is a non-profit organization started in 2008 by animal lover Debi Boies and pilot Jon Wehrenberg. Jon helped Debi rescue a Doberman from a shelter in Florida and delivered it to a home in South Carolina, saving the life of the Doberman. From that successful rescue, the idea of the Pilots N Paws organization and website was born.
The website, www.pilotsnpaws.org, is a place where pilots willing to fly animals from point-to-point can get in touch with rescues, fosters and shelters who need transportation to save the lives of dogs, cats and even some exotic pets. The organization has grown to the point where today there are 3,168 pilots and 10,551 volunteers.
A shelter or rescue group sometimes will have a home for an animal but that potential home may be far enough away from the shelter (sometimes several states away) to make the pick up of the animal by the adopting home difficult or impossible due to costs or other factors.
These situations are where Pilots N Paws can sometimes be lifesavers. A shelter, foster or rescue can post a request for a flight on the website. From there a member pilot can view the request board and see if they can be of help. The pilot will contact the orga- nization to work out the details of the
transport. Pilots N Paws is 100% volunteer so the pilots are not compensated nor are there any regularly scheduled flights.
Susan Delgado, a Georgia-based member pilot said, “About 90-percent of my flights are for the sole purpose of rescue. Most of the pilots do it because they love to fly and love animals.”
Susan estimates she has transported 75-dogs and 1-cat. Susan said, “Once a year we have a big event where we try to make a statement. We try to completely empty a shelter. This year we got all the available pilots in the southeast to fly to Charlotte and we saved over 100-dogs.”
Susan herself wasn’t able to help with that rescue because at the same time there was an immediate need for a res- cue in Alabama. “I had 16-puppies and 6-adult dogs – 22-total on the flight.” Susan said.
Most of the rescue flights involve 1 or 2 hours of flying time but there are rescues that require more coordination and it can be somewhat difficult. Susan said, “There are a lot of great people and pilots. It can take some time to coordinate efforts. We transported a dog from Alabama to Maine and it took 3-pilots.”
Sometimes, the rescues require a com- bination of flying and driving. Susan said, “There was a full-grown Shepherd found on the side of the road and he was emaciated. There is a group in Florida that deals with Shepherds in trouble, so I flew to Kentucky to get him and back to Georgia then drove the rest of the way down to Florida.
He weighed 35-pounds when I got him and now he weighs 75-pounds.”
You might think that having dogs, especially several dogs, onboard a small plane would be noisy to the point of distraction but Susan said it really isn’t an issue. “Dogs seem to know when they’re going to someplace better so they really don’t bark, especially once the engine starts running. I did have
a deaf Bulldog once that kept barking and caused a Terrier to howl. When I checked in with the traffic controller, he said, ‘I can hear your passengers.’”
You can see that it takes many dedicated and caring people who offer different expertise and services to save animals. Pilots N Paws is one of the many organizations we feature in Bone Up! magazine. If you would like to learn more about Pilots N Paws or would like to join or donate to the cause, please go to their website at www.pilotsnpaws.org.