Pilots N Paws: Flying to Save AnimalsPublished January 18, 2012
Courtesy of Debi Boies
Mornings come all too early for Debi Boies. She’s up at the crack of dawn caring for her three Morgan horses, three dogs and a cat. It was her incredible love and concern for the welfare of animals that led her to embark upon her journey into the world of animal rescue in the form of Pilots N Paws, a non-profit organization that is currently soaring high.
Pilots N Paws was born out of Boies own experience with animal rescue; shortly after the death of her beloved Doberman named Carly in 2007, Debi learned about Brock, a Doberman being used as a bait dog in the fighting ring whom she desperately wanted save. But the long distance between them complicated the rescue. It was then her friend Jon Wehrenberg, a recreational pilot, offered to fly her down to Florida to bring him home.
“I was flabbergasted and in awe that anyone would make such a generous offer,” Boies said. “But I soon learned that recreational pilots are as passionate about flying as animal people are about rescuing pets. Since pilots are always looking for reasons to fly, introducing them to animal rescuers seemed like a perfect match.”
Pilots N Paws’ mission is saving the lives of animals that might otherwise be euthanized by transporting them from overcrowded shelters to participating foster and adoptive homes that are ready and eager to take them in. Their interactive website gives those involved a common place to share all vital information such as arranging and scheduling flights and any overnight care for rescued animals which may be needed.
Passion abounds at Pilots N Paws. All pilots involved in the program are nuts about flying; these are avid animal lovers who donate both their flying time and planes. And since a mandated number of hours must be flown to maintain their licenses; it is an incredible win-win situation for all concerned. Today there are 2,529 pilots registered on PNP, with a goal of 10,000 pilots participating in the future.
I asked Debi if she could tell me about a particularly poignant rescue. While all of their rescues are both heartwarming and challenging, I felt the one that exemplified their commitment to needy animals was Daniel’s story. Daniel, a Beagle mix, miraculously survived the gas chamber at the pound in Morris County, Alabama. His plight quickly reached the ears of the PNP network who immediately got busy making arrangements to fly Daniel to safety.
Scott Messinger, a Philadelphia resident, volunteered to pick up Daniel along with 17 other rescued dogs in Jackson, Tennessee. After he loaded them all up into his single-engine plane and making several stops along the way, they arrived at their final destination at the Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey.
Daniel must have known his life had changed forever; according to the pilot, the grateful pooch started wagging his tail the moment his paws touched the ground. Thanks to this Beagle-loving pilot’s compassionate intervention, Daniel now has a permanent home with a wonderful New Jersey family. In addition to finding a forever-loving home, Daniel, has become the "poster dog" for those fighting to end the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals.
Pilots N Paws needs pilots! For those interested in volunteering, please visit this page.
To “meet” Scott and a few of the animals he has rescued, watch this touching video uploaded to YouTube by BeyondFilm1.
Isn’t this an incredible win-win story? Share your thoughts with a comment.