Pilots N Paws

Posted by on Aug 4, 2009 in Animal Rescue, Lifestyle, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

Altruism is defined as an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. In this economy I am certain that we have seen altruistic behavior at its best. Neighbors helping neighbors and people stepping up to make life just a bit easier for others in need. The story I am about to tell you takes Animal Rescue to another level…like 10,000 feet to be exact! Consider this, pilots donating their time, planes, gas and miles to transport animals in jeopardy to a safe house in another city or state. Sound unlikely? Meet Pilots N Paws. This amazing effort, started by Debi Boies and her partner Jon Wehrenberg, began in February 2008…just a little over one year ago. Since then, over 1,000 animals have been air lifted out of precarious situations and flown to a forever home, foster home or non kill shelter. The website,, provides an online meeting space for pilots to connect with animal rescue volunteers and help to transport animals by air. Debi, cofounder of Pilots N Paws (a 501c3), is extremely low key. You will not find her story or her name on the Pilots N Paws website. And that’s how she likes it. During our interview, she made it clear, that it is not about her or what she does, but about the animals whose lives are saved on a daily basis. Debi founded Pilots N Paws after her adoption experience with Doberman Pinscher, Brock. Brock was in a Tallahassee shelter and had been used as a “bait” dog in the past. Debi (who lives in South Carolina) and her husband Bob were preparing to drive to Tallahassee to pull Brock out of his situation. This is where cofounder Jon comes in. Jon, a family friend, is an avid pilot living in Tennessee. He volunteered to fly to South Carolina, pick up Debi and Bob, and then fly to Brock in Tallahassee. He did and the rescue happened in just a couple of hours rather than in a couple of days! Thus, Pilots N Paws was born. As you can imagine, the heart warming stories abound and I was fortunate enough to speak with two pilots in between flights. It is clear that they love what they do and have a deep passion for saving animals in their own special way. Jeff Bennett, a pilot out of Big Pine Key, has rescued 81 animals since October of 2008. He doesn’t limit his rescue missions to dogs and cats however. Jeff’s count includes pythons, pigs and even a baby chick! Jeff says that the best part of his job is saving lives. His fondest memories are of animals that were on death’s door, next in line for euthanasia, and through his efforts are now protected. His farthest flight involved many legs…literally. From the Keys to Lakeland, Lakeland to Bambridge, GA, from Georgia to Alabama…and in Alabama he rescued 19 puppies. Seventeen of the puppies were flown to a rescue group in Tampa and two returned to the Keys. I asked Jeff if he receives feedback from adoptive families, shelters or rescue groups. He said occasionally… like the shepherd mix that he flew from Islamorada, FL to Philly. His owner contacted Jeff to let him know that the rescued dog was thriving. But, for Jeff, the stories are written in his heart and in the memory book he has made which contains each and every rescued animal’s picture and story. Nancy Moore, a pilot out of Ft. Lauderdale, sums up her experience in these words, “Ellen Herr and I became involved with Pilots N...

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