Flying High…Dogs Flown To Safe Shelter

Here is a great story about an organization, Pilots N Paws, that takes dogs from kill shelters and flies them to no kill shelters. Pilots...


Here is a great story about an organization, Pilots N Paws, that takes dogs from kill shelters and flies them to no kill shelters. Pilots donate their time, planes, and fuel to help transport the dogs to a safe place.

The mission-of-mercy relocations are flown by general aviation pilots who have signed on with the recently formed Pilots N Paws, a Web-based message board where pilots can access information about animals in need.

Once the electronic connection is made, dogs plucked by rescuers from death row – mostly in the South where sterilization rates are low and pet overpopulation is rampant – are loaded onto small planes and flown one, two or six at a time to rescue groups and shelters that have available space.

“These are wonderful dogs that simply had the bad luck of winding up in a place where there are too many pets in shelters,” says Pilots N Paws co-founder Jon Wehrenberg of Knoxville, Tenn. The retired manufacturing executive and weekend pilot has flown scores of dogs from high-kill shelters this year.

Earlier this month, his mission involved six small mixed-breed dogs from Knoxville’s Young-Williams Animal Center.”Pilots N Paws has given about 20 of our animals a second chance,” says Tim Adams, executive director of the Young-Williams shelter, which euthanizes 70% of the animals that land there. “We take in 17,000 animals a year, and Knoxville simply isn’t big enough… to get new homes for them here. Twenty animals saved may not sound like much, but every one of them matters.”

Pilots N Paws started benignly enough, a flight to help a friend get a Doberman in need from Florida to South Carolina. Little did Jon Wehrenberg know, life would never be the same.

Pilots N Paws started operating in February soon after Wehrenberg offered to fly a Doberman in Florida to his pal Debi Boies of Landrum, S.C., who is a retired nurse, horse breeder and long-time rescuer. He began asking questions about the rescue world and learned about the passionate underground railroad of animal lovers who orchestrate days-long road journeys to save some of the 4 million to 6 million animals destined for euthanasia in U.S. shelters annually.

“I’d had no idea of the number of animals being euthanized, and the ordeal people and animals were going through in transports,” Wehrenberg says. “Pilots love to fly. I believed that if we created a means for them to discover situations where they could fly and also save animals, many would do it.”

He and Boies joined forces to spread the word, and within months, 85 pilots had signed on. Nearly 200 dogs have now been flown from several shelters and rescue groups to welcoming arms hundreds of miles away.

These are probably the only group of pilots who receive doggy kisses for airfare.

Stop by Pilots N Paws to find out how you can help out, even if you don’t have a pilots license.

* Photo courtesy Chad Greene, for USA Today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.

Let Dogster answer all of your most baffling canine questions!

Starting at just


Follow Us

Shopping Cart