Pilots 'n Paws Reunites Soldiers And Pets

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Pilots 'n Paws, a nonprofit group that works to transport shelter dogs to new homes with the help of volunteer pilots, recently took part in a dramatic rescue of two dogs from Afghanistan, who had been adopted by U.S. soldiers on deployment. When the soldiers were sent home, they didn't want to abandon the pets. So their families worked to raise money to ship the dogs overseas to New York, where they were picked up by volunteer pilots for Pilots 'n Paws. John Lee picked up Ally, the pet of Cpl. Michael Lemmons, in his single-engine Commander and flew her to Louisville, Ky., where she was taken home by Michael's mom to await his return from Afghanistan later this month. The other dog, Delilah, flew to Texas to be reunited with his adopted family. Transport by airplane greatly reduces the stress of travel for the animals, compared to lengthy car trips, says Pilots 'n Paws co-founder Debi Boies. Click here for a video from the local TV news about the delivery to Louisville.

Last week at AOPA Summit, in Tampa, Fla., Boies welcomed a volunteer pilot, Jeff Bennett, who flew in with five dog crates loaded into his Cirrus SR-22. Packed inside were 17 puppies of various shapes and sizes, as well as a full-grown young Husky. Bennett had picked the dogs up in Georgia, where they would have soon been euthanized due to a lack of nearby homes. But shelters in the Tampa area were ready to accept all of the animals, with good homes waiting. Bennett has three dogs of his own at his home in the Florida Keys, and has made quite a few flights on behalf of Pilots 'n Paws, saving the lives of about 175 animals. The organization does not directly arrange the flights, but provides a Web site where shelters and pilots can connect. More pilots are needed, says Boies. All flight expenses are tax-deductible.