Dogs on a plane. A mercy flight for animals facing death in overcrowded shelters.
Recently our newspaper told the story of the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team when they brought fifteen dogs to the Lancaster County SPCA shelter. The PAART began when a couple of new pilots wanted a mission other than just flying around Pittsburgh. After one transported a dog for a friend, the idea took hold. When the group hears of an overcrowded shelter about to euthanize dogs, they fly in and collect up to one thousand pounds of animals and take them to a shelter that has room and people who want to adopt dogs.
Since 2006, they’ve moved more than 600 dogs. They’ve also shifted cats, ducks, even pigs and a python. Sometimes the dogs are in crates, other times they are loose. The altitude makes them sleepy. The only problem has been when an affectionate dog wants to sit on the pilot’s lap. (The only damage to a plane was when one Great Dane chewed up the co-pilot’s seat.) Many of the dogs are puppies.
The team of pilots has gone out nearly every weekend for the last two years. On occasion a pilot will adopt one of the dogs. But they know the dogs face a bright future. Locally, the Lancaster shelter had previously taken twenty-eight dogs from the same overcrowded shelter in another state, but these were the first that came by plane. All of those those taken earlier have been adopted.
“Our turnover has been phenomenal,” said Lancaster’s Susan Martin. “We live in such a great county. There are so many dog lovers.”
The full article with pictures is here.