Updated 09/29/2012 02:18 PM
Local pilots bring animals to other states for second chance at life
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MONROE, N.C. – Hundreds of dogs and cats were up in the air, serving as co-pilots Saturday as a part of the largest single-day airborne animal rescue effort. It's a part of Pilots and Paws, where pilots from all over the country donate their time, planes and fuel to transport animals in high-kill shelter areas to no-kill shelters around the country.
On Saturday, more than 300 animals were transported out of the Monroe Airport.
"This is a large bin, but we'll have smaller bins and we'll stack five, six, seven of them into the plane and get as many of them into the plane as we can get,” said Peter Weidhorn of New Jersey.
Weidhorn is a first-timer with the program. He says filling up his plane with dogs and cats is something he never thought he'd do.
"Honest? No. But do I feel good about it? It's terrific,” he said.
Peter Tobin and Karen Johnson, of Illinois, are old pros. They've done 30 to 40 rescue flights over the past three years.
"Two of our own personal dogs were rescues that someone else flew. We started volunteering just because we were so grateful two of our dogs came from this group. We're just so grateful we wanted to get involved,” said Tobin.
They say it's a satisfying experience to get these dogs from high-kill shelters to no-kill shelters, or even new owners, to give them a second chance.
"They're all fantastic and when you say these dogs won't live through the next year, a lot of times these dogs won't live through the next day. We'll get these dogs out on an afternoon when they're scheduled to be euthanized the next morning,” said Tobin.
And as they close the doors and prepare for takeoff, those involved say it's the best feeling to watch them take off for their new, better adventure.
"It's just a very rewarding event. You see these animals, it's almost like they know they're going home. They're wagging their tails, they're full of excitement, so it's a great day,” said Kathleen Quinn, executive director of Pilots and Paws.
"It's wonderful I like to see them fly over, knowing they're getting the second chance they deserve,” said Angie Rowland, rescue coordinator for Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society.
Those involved in the Pilots and Paws program say even if you don't have a plane, there are other ways you can help this program or shelters in general. They say things such as taking the dogs for walks, cleaning their cages, or serving as a foster home for the animals is a big help.