Volunteer pilots help doomed dogs land new chance at life

2015-04-08 20:51
(Jim Nista, AP)

(Jim Nista, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - Thousands of dogs facing euthanasia, some just hours from death, get loaded on planes each year and flown to new homes in places across the United States with shortages of adoptable pets.

Groups such as California-based Wings of Rescue or South Carolina-based Pilots N Paws lead the charge, recruiting pilots to volunteer their planes, fuel and time in a trend that's growing as more dogs end up in shelters and more people seek out canine love.

More than 4 million US pets are put to death every year. Both pilot groups encourage spaying and neutering as a solution but know that airlifts will increase as they become more visible and the number of needy dogs grows.

States such as California, Georgia and South Carolina typically have too many dogs in shelters, while places such as Washington, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Florida need more pets to satisfy demand. To solve the location conundrum, pilots fire up their engines.

In Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, retirees want smaller dogs, which are easier to take care of but a tough find in the area with the high demand.

So, the Kootenai Humane Society orders a planeload of dogs under 7kg every month, or more than 1 000 animals in the last 16 months, Executive Director Debbie Jeffrey said.

"It's just been a real success. As fast as they come in, they are adopted," she said.

The successes increase as more pilots sign up to help.

"We have seen the number of animals rescued go up every year since we started in 2008," said Kate Quinn, executive director of Pilots N Paws.

The group's 5 000-plus pilots have flown more than 15 000 dogs to new homes each of the past two years, relocating more than 75 000 animals over the last seven years, she said. And the numbers keep rising.

"Pilots love a reason to fly. They love making these flights," Quinn said, adding that all dogs have to be spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated before they take off.

Yehuda Netanel, founder and president of Wings of Rescue, says business has doubled each of the past 4½ years. He started as the lone pilot who rescued 300 dogs, and now the group expects to fly 7 000 pets in 2015, he said.

The pilot of 27 years will charter planes to move dogs if there aren't enough private planes, meaning flights cost about $80 per dog.

Netanel and his 28 pilots are preparing to take flight this weekend with 250 dogs from San Bernardino, 150 from Bakersfield and smaller numbers from other locations.

Pilots Kale and Anj Garcia of Seattle will be in San Bernardino to bring as many as 50 dogs back to Washington state in their seven-passenger Cessna 414. The couple have flown 16 missions for Wings of Rescue.

Most dogs sleep during the flight, and only a few have had air sickness, said Anj Garcia, who will take each one out of its crate and cuddle it during the journey.

The flights allowed Cathy Parker of Coeur d'Alene to find her dogs: Bella, a poodle-Chihuahua mix, and Sidney, a poodle-Pomeranian mix, who Wings of Rescue delivered from different shelters about nine months apart.

"They've been a real good match for each other and me," she said.

Read more on:    us  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


How to open a beer bottle without an opener

Do the right thing and never be thirsty again…


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.