Sun Sentinel – Rescued Puppies Arrive by Plane

Sun Sentinel – Rescued Puppies Arrive by Plane

Operation Special Delivery changed the lives for 400 animals as hundreds of volunteer pilots and rescues came together in Hinesville, Georgia and surrounding areas. Erika Pesantes covered the story for the Sun Sentinel in “Rescued Puppies Arrive by Plane for Adoption in South Florida” posted on October 5, 2013.

Martine Pate carries two puppies that were among the more than 50 dogs and cats flown into Palm Beach County Saturday as part of Pilots N Paws Operation Special Delivery. Volunteer pilots flew more than 400 abandonded pets from Midcoast Regional Airport in Hinesville, Georgia to airports around the south where volunteers with no-kill shelters accepted the animals to foster while homes are found for them. (Mark Randall / Sun Sentinel / October 5, 2013)

Martine Pate carries two puppies that were among the more than 50 dogs and cats flown into Palm Beach County Saturday as part of Pilots N Paws Operation Special Delivery. Volunteer pilots flew more than 400 abandonded pets from Midcoast Regional Airport in Hinesville, Georgia to airports around the south where volunteers with no-kill shelters accepted the animals to foster while homes are found for them. (Mark Randall / Sun Sentinel / October 5, 2013)

The excitement peaked when two planes touched down at Palm Beach County Air Park and delivered the precious cargo: more than 60 puppies and two cats.

The animals were taken Saturday from shelters in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama to loving homes in South Florida as part of a nationwide effort, through the Pilots N Paws volunteer organization. It was done to rescue animals that once were scheduled to be euthanized at shelters.

Doggies lapped up the oodles of attention as children and adults alike cooed and cuddled with them. A Palm Beach County group, A Second Chance Puppies and Kittens Rescue, found foster homes for the influx of needy pets.

Ruth Douthitt, the rescue group’s past president, encouraged her network of animal lovers to consider offering a temporary, nurturing environment for pups in need. But fluffy dogs weren’t too tough a sell Saturday.

“You have to consider yourself the bridge from their old life where they were neglected, abused, abandoned,” Douthitt said. “You’re the bridge that gets them ready for their forever homes.”

Sometimes, canines are united with their permanent owners sooner than expected.

Bob Harvey said he and his wife, Lindy, and daughter Caroline planned to foster a puppy. But he had a hunch that they would fall for the black-and-tan hound and keep it.

“I don’t see myself fostering a dog,” he said with a smile, implying he likely would give it a permanent home. “We’re dog people. They become members of the family.

“I think this is one of the greatest things the community can do as a whole.”

Audrey Stansbury drove from Sebring on Saturday with the intention of keeping a Boston terrier she knew would be flying in as part of the canine cargo.

“It’s so nice to see so many coming in from kill shelters,” she said, growing emotional. “It’s wonderful what the pilots are doing. It’s phenomenal; it’s touching.”

Those pilots, Jeff Bennett and Jeff Luizza, became that bridge, bringing together the animal lovers and the dogs. As their planes arrived within minutes of each other, the group cheered, “Yay, puppies!”

Crates were gingerly pulled from the planes, and the animals were placed inside makeshift pens on a nearby patch of grass beneath the shade.

The gleeful puppies ran in circles, ate and drank water as the eager crowd stared at them.

When they are old enough, about eight weeks, the dogs will be spayed or neutered. Early Saturday, a pregnant pooch gave birth to a litter of eight that managed to get on a plane just in time, an organizer said.

Of helping rescue pets, pilot Jeff Luizza said, “We’re only scratching the surface.”

epesantes@tribune.com,954-356-4543 or Twitter @epesantes

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

2 Responses to “Sun Sentinel – Rescued Puppies Arrive by Plane”

  1. When Miami Dade shelter is overflowing with wonderful dogs and cats along with many other shelters in Florida why would you send 400 puppies and kittens into the area? It makes no sense. The local people and rescues need to look to their local shelters and help the ones being dumped in their own state.

  2. Pilots N Paws is truly a completely compassionate group of pilots who are not only saving these precious little lives, but they do it on THEIR time, with THEIR money, THEIR planes and fuel! But remember also that it takes a great deal of effort by those volunteer workers on the ground who coordinate this airlift to forever homes. The networking, the planning, the tireless caring for the animals before the flight and afterwards is just plain amazing. The whole country needs to take a lesson from these wonderful people!