As effects of the Gulf Coast oil spill continue to reverberate throughout the region, pilots and other volunteers are preparing to relocate more than 150 animals left homeless by the disaster as part of the Pilots N Paws Gulf Coast Rescue Flyway Sept. 18.
As of Thursday, roughly 58 aircraft and 118 pilots were scheduled to transport nearly 160 dogs from various Louisiana shelters to rescue groups in Iowa, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey.
“These animals need help now,” says Debi Boies, co-founder of nonprofit Pilots N Paws, a website that connects animal rescue groups and volunteer pilots. “Many had families who loved them and are victims of the oil spill. Their owners have lost their jobs, their homes and are barely surviving. They no longer have the means to care for their pets.”
In St. Bernard Parish on the Louisiana coast, shelter director Beth Brewster told The New York Times that owners relinquished 100 pets in June, up from only 17 the prior year.
Pilots N Paws connects rescuers in Gulf states with shelters and rescue groups across the country willing to take in the animals. The sending and receiving teams pair up with a volunteer pilot, who transports the pets.
“Volunteers are the key to our success,” Boies says. “Without the pilots and rescue groups, our program wouldn’t exist. The more volunteers we have the better chance of saving helpless animals.”
Boies says Pilots N Paws needs volunteers of all kinds, not just pilots.
“Ask permission to place a flier [found here] in the pilot lounge or the small-plane section of your local airport,” she says. Volunteers are also needed to watch pilots’ animals, and monetary donations are always welcome. “Most of all, spread the word to fellow rescuers and pilots, asking them to join and help us help the animals.”
For more info, visit http://pilotsnpaws.org