General aviation got some positive press last Friday when the NBC Nightly News aired a segment about Pilots-N-Paws, an outfit based in South Carolina that helps transport dogs from overcrowded shelters to places where they can be cared for in temporary housing or placed in new homes. The year-old organization doesn't actually arrange the flights, but provides a Web site and discussion forum, a sort of ride board, where those in need and GA pilots who are willing to help can find one another. "Every time I take off, that's a couple more dogs that aren't going to be euthanized," volunteer pilot and co-founder of the organization, John Wehrenberg, told NBC. In an interview last year with USA Today, he said: "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."
In just over a year, the Web site has helped to arrange flights for over 200 shelter dogs, flown by about 115 volunteer pilots. Without the pilots' help, dogs that need to be transported to new homes hundreds of miles away are taken by volunteer driver relays, which are difficult to coordinate and can require the animals to be transferred from car to car as often as 12 times in a day.
"Some animals need medical care or are just not suited to the stress of a ground transport, and that is where there is a great need for pilots," says the Pilot-N-Paws Web site. An airplane can efficiently cover what would be a 12-hour drive in one-quarter of the time, and with just one pilot instead of six or more volunteer drivers. Pilots who would like to help out can find more info at the Pilots-N-Paws Web site. To view the NBC video, click here.