via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Shelter pets escape death row by plane
A few lucky shelter animals are taking to the friendly skies in search of a better life.
With the help of volunteers, like pilot Jeff Bennett, Pilots N Paws transports pets from overwhelmed shelters to communities, often ones with higher median income, where they'll stand a better chance of getting a new "leash" on life with an adoptive family. The pilots generously donate their time, planes and fuel to the cause.
Bennett, 50, is a retired Florida Keys businessman with a Cirrus SR22 and a soft spot for homeless dogs. His most recent "mission" brought the total number of animals he's relocated for Pilots N Paws to 124, which, in addition to dogs, includes a menagerie of snakes and lizards, a chicken and a potbellied pig. He's been volunteering with the charity for about a year.
According to an AP article, Pilots N Paws is seeking to transport 5,000 animals to safety in a flurry of flights this week designed to raise awareness of the charity and draw attention to the importance of spaying and neutering.
Pilots N Paws was founded in February 2008 when a Knoxville, Tennessee pilot named Jon Wehrenberg offered to fly his friend, Debi Boies, from her home near Greenville, South Carolina, down to Florida to pick up a Doberman Pinscher she wanted to adopt from a rescue group. Wehrenberg wondered if there might be a regular need for such a service.
The answer turned out to be an enthusiastic yes. Moving animals from high-kill shelters around the country is not new for rescue groups, but the process usually involves long, exhausting car trips.
The Pilots N Paws website currently serves as a forum where shelters and rescue groups can connect with volunteer pilots. More than 680 pilots have already transported thousands of animals — many of them rescued from death row at overpopulated, high-kill shelters in Southern states, where people are less likely to sterilize their animals.
Learn more about Pilots N Pets and how you can help.
Read more: http://www.pilotsnpaws.org/