Founded in 2008, the nonprofit group flies homeless animals from overcrowded shelters to new homes. The group was founded by retired businessman and pilot Jon Wehrenberg after he learned that millions of animals are euthanized in shelters every year, many of them due to overcrowded conditions.
“People wonder: Why would I want to do this?” Wehrenberg told KnoxNews.com. “The answer is because I can.”
To date, Pilots N Paws has relocated thousands of animals, including dogs, cats and other animals such as pigs and snakes. One volunteer pilot, Scott Messinger, recently flew his 1,000th rescue animal.
Pilots N Paws volunteer pilots donate more than their skill and plane. The average animal airlift costs upward of $2,500, volunteer pilot Steve Edwards told USA Today. “Between the fuel, maintenance and plane permits, it’s expensive,” he says.
“It is absolutely worth it, though,” Edwards says. “If you ask the dogs if it’s worth it … I think they’d say it is.”
Edwards hopes other pilots will join the Pilots N Paws rescue mission. So far, some 2,201 volunteer pilots have registered on the site.
“As pilots, we have the ability to fly, and it’s our duty to use it for good,” he says.
To learn more, visit Pilots N Paws.