CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Pilots N Paws organization is helping rescue pets and find them new homes – then flying them to their forever home wherever they are in the United States.
These volunteer pilots are able to save these animals by flying them to no-kill shelters or to adoptive families, often located hundreds of miles away.
“Unfortunately, Texas is full of animals that fill our shelters, and I call them death-row dogs." Pilots N Paws volunteer pilot Paul Barnett said. "We get them up to another part of the country. Usually within a week or two, they are in new homes."
Pilot Paul Barnett, who has been flying for 20 years, joined the non-profit organization in 2008. Since then, he has flown more than 200 dogs and cats to new homes.
“It is comfortable for the dogs. I have had as many as 11 dogs in at one time," Barnett said. "We take off, and usually they lay down and go to sleep, and every now and then they will pop their head up and look around but are very good passengers."
Today's mission is saving three Labrador retrievers: Babe, Sunny, and Jack from the Kingsville Animal Shelter and taking them to their new home in Chicago.
“Sunny is our first foster, and I was not sure how the transport worked, and then when I found out that it was a plane strictly for transporting dogs," animal foster parent Kylie Armstrong said. "I thought that was incredible. I just know they are going safely, and they are going to be in safe conditions and everything, so I think it is amazing that it is just not the fosters who are working as a team to get the dogs to their new home,"
This is a new lease on life for many animals thanks to Barnett and other pilots across the country who donate their time and fuel to transport animals in need.
“They are headed to death row here, and they go somewhere else, they live, and they have a nice home," Barnett said. "So, if you don't have a trip, you are going to be flying anyway. Pilots N Paws is a good organization; it gives you a mission instead of going out and flying in circles in the air."
For many of these animals like Jack, Sunny, and Babe, a rescue flight is their only chance of survival.
Here’s how it works: Rescue organizations post on the Pilots N Paws website when they need to transport a dog (or cat or rabbit or reptile or chicken) from one location to another.
Sometimes it’s from a shelter that uses euthanasia to a no-kill shelter; other times it’s from a rescue organization to a forever home.
For more information on this unique service check their website here.