Pilots N Paws, an online volunteer organization of small-plane pilots and rescuers, “sprouted wings” after Debi Boies, who had been in Doberman Rescue for several years in South Caro lina, sent out an e-mail to her friends to see if any of them were, by chance, making a trip from Florida to the Carolinas. After the loss of her 12-year-old Dobie, she found a rescue Doberman in Florida who needed a home and felt that he would be a perfect addition to their family. The only question was how to move him from Florida to South Carolina.
Debi’s friend Jon Wehrenberg in Knoxville,Tennessee responded to her plea and generously offered to fly the Dobie from Florida to Debi in South Carolina. Debi was overwhelmed by his generosity. After the transport flight, Jon asked Debi questions about rescue work, animals in shelters, what happens to them, where they go, and how they get there. The easiest reply for Debi was to send him to various websites where ground coordinators set up vehicle transports and to ask him to view several shelter sites, as well. The next day he sent an email and said, “we need to do something!” Debi agreed and asked if he thought “Pilots N Paws” would be an acceptable name. Of course, it was, and a great idea took shape. The first official flight took place on February 8, 2008. Since then, the number of small-plane general aviation pilot volunteers has climbed to more than 1,800, with 7,605 registered users participating on the website. Their ultimate goal is to have 10,000 pilots, so that few transport requests go unanswered.
Check out pilotsnpaws.org. It’s full of rescue stories that will touch your heart. Most recently, on September 18, 2010, 54 planes and hundreds of volunteers came together to save 171 dogs from the Gulf Coast and New Orleans areas when the pet parents could no longer afford to take care of them. Many of these families and their pets were victims of the oil spill. Rescues all over the country gave these animals a chance for new lives, and Pilots N Paws pilots worked together to fly them. Though Pilots N Paws is a United States non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable group, Debi has had inquiries from other countries, such as Canada and Australia, asking her assistance in starting their own Pilots N Paws organization. Because Pilots N Paws is a 501(c)(3), portions of the pilots’ flights are tax-deductible,which does help with the expenses. However, general aviation pilots often remark that they would continue to fly these animals even without that added incentive. Why? Because they care.
The rescue world continues to work together to make a difference in the lives of innocent animals. Pilots N Paws will continue their part as long as there is a need.