Swooping in to Save the DayOn January 2, 2015 by Schnader in Aviation
The hearing-impaired Great Dane puppy needed help: His time limit at the Greenville, South Carolina shelter was up, and he needed to be transferred to a shelter in Pittsburgh or he would be put down. Fortunately, the shelter contacted pilot Bob Williams about transporting the animal, thanks to Pilots N Paws, an organization connecting volunteer pilots, plane owners, and animal shelters. As a volunteer pilot with Pilots N Paws, Bob uses his aviation skills to help transport animals in danger of being euthanized.
The initial flight route was unusual-the transport would go from Greenville to Pittsburgh, but through Philadelphia. Bob revamped the flight plan, recruited pilots to take on the different legs, and planned the mission to rescue the animal. Although the Great Dane was transferred to a shelter in a different region, Bob and Pilots N Paws would take the lead in saving another animal.
This animal would turn out to be Ginger, a one-and-half-year-old Briard who was abandoned in rural North Carolina and showed signs of aggressive behavior, leading to animal control deciding to put her down. A Greensboro, North Carolina shelter intervened to save her and while bathing and examining her, the shelter’s vet discovered she wasn’t aggressive by nature, but pregnant. Two weeks after being picked up, Ginger gave birth to two healthy puppies, who were adopted after the natural weaning period.
However, funding ran out, and Ginger needed a home or she would be put down. A couple in Wheeling, West Virginia stepped in to adopt her, but there was the matter of transportation. That’s where Bob and his team came in. In this instance, he worked with the shelter, adoptive family, and other volunteers to coordinate the transport. On Sunday, December 21, despite some inclement weather, Bob and another volunteer pilot safely flew Ginger home. The other volunteer flew from Greensboro and Charleston, West Virginia, and Bob handled the Charleston to Wheeling leg of the trip.
Bob, chair of Schnader’s Aviation Group, has been involved with the organization for five years, and over that time, has flown four flights in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and West Virginia. In addition to flying actual missions, he has acted as a pilot advisor and consultant for dozens of additional rescue missions by assisting with route and leg selection, with flight planning, and with pilot recruitment. These missions often involve multiple legs and pilots, with trips spa nning hundreds of miles, and require significant coordination between pilots, volunteers, and families.
Pilots N Paws is a nonprofit organization which unites those who rescue, shelter or foster animals with volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with transporting animals. Through discussion boards, participants can exchange information and arrange for transports to save animals that may otherwise be put down. The southern United States contains a high number of overpopulated shelters that euthanize pets who are not adopted within a specified time range. 70% of dogs that enter shelters in the southern part of the country are euthanized. The northeastern U.S. also contains overcrowded shelters, but most of the shelters in that region are “no-kill” shelters. Most of the missions move animals that are about to be euthanized from shelters in the south to no-kill shelters in the northeast. Sometimes, however, the shelter or service finds a family to adopt the pet, and pilots have the opportunity to bring the animals to their new homes.
Ginger, Bob’s son, Connor, and Bob
Photos courtesy Bob Williams