Good Samaritan doesn’t seem like a term strong enough to describe what thousands of pilots are doing to help animals across the country.
Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit organization, connects rescue organizations with pilots who are willing to help transport animals to and from shelters across the country.
The perk for the pilot? There’s no pay, but they get the best copilots ever (and a tax write-off). They also donate their time and their own planes.
Sure, there are vehicles that can provide the same service of getting animals from point A to point B, but Marsha Perelman, a director of the Human Society of the United States, told the Philadelphia Inquirer these volunteer pilots have helped fill a void.
“There’s such a huge imbalance of available animals across the country that it became almost impractical to drive every one, so [we’re] looking for every possible way to move them from one part of the country or the other to save their lives,” she said.
The animals are often picked up from Southern states, where there are far more sheltered animals, and taken to the North, where fewer shelters euthanize healthy animals, yet have a shortage.
Al Ciardi, who has helped save 75 dogs, three cats and 27 chickens during a total of nearly 40 flights, is a 52-year-old bankruptcy lawyer who flies in and out of Northeast Philadelphia.
While people are praising Ciardi and other volunteer pilots just like him, he said he’s got the easy job.
“Everybody’s a winner here. I’m having fun,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The people that do the hard work are the fosters and the rescue [organizations]. They really have the tough job.”
As you might guess, there’s a somewhat streamlined process.
This is how the process runs:
1. Rescue organizations post to Pilots N Paws website when they have an animal in need of a transport. That may be to get an animal from a shelter that practices euthanasia to a no-kill shelter. It may also be to get an animal at a rescue shelter to an adopter.
2. The organization’s more than 5,000 pilots around the country then see the trip pop up on an accessible map.
3. Pilots comment on the thread to figure out when they can pick up and drop off an animal.
4. Pilots N Paws gets in touch with multiple pilots to confirm information and get the animals where they need to go.
What a great program, right?
Want to learn more about the organization and read about dozens of real life rescues? Click here.
You can also closely follow rescue stories (from beginning to end) on Pilots N Paws' Facebook page.