Thursday, December 1, 2011
Doomed dogs flown to new lives
From North Carolina to Philadelphia: that's just one life-saving route for dogs who were scheduled to die – but were saved. They flew to life and freedom because a Virginia college prof and his network of helpers in the air and on the ground all pitched in.
“Pilots N Paws” is the name of Michael Young’s avocation – plucking adoptable dogs from high-kill shelters and flying them to pet-rescue agencies. In the last year, he has completed more than 20 rescue flights, according to a December issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The dogs fly away from the death chamber in a four-seat Columbia 400 plane owned by Young and a few friends. He can remove seats if he’s transporting a number of dogs, and he counts on help of student volunteers from his aviation club at George Mason University, in Virginia, where he teaches engineering.
Young made his first flight in 2010, after his family dog, suffering from cancer, had to be put to sleep. A friend asked him to help with a mass airlift of dogs abandoned during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and that was the beginning.
Volunteers on the ground start the process by visiting high-kill shelters to line up canine candidates for rescue flights. The receiving groups get photos and information on the dogs coming to them, and can make plans for their future.
Young has diverted two dogs bound for rescue to his own home. “Molly” and “Biff” missed their flights but gained new lives.
(Alert to readers: For more information and opinions about pets, try www.NJ.com/pets.)