Saving Dogs

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.

Old News That’s Still New

I’ve been busy which is real­ly not a good excuse. Every­one is busy this time of year—the hol­i­days, vis­its, cook­ing, clean­ing, bad colds—and I’ve had them all. Plus, I’ve been pour­ing over the proof of my new book and dis­cov­er­ing lots of things that need to be changed. But I must take time out to write in my blog. And—I’ve found a good subject—the con­tin­u­ing real­iza­tion that the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Every Mon­day our local news­pa­per has a col­umn of old news tak­en from papers 25, 50, 75, and 100 years ago. Yes, our news­pa­per has been in busi­ness that long! (Well, the paper’s name has under­gone a few name changes. It’s now a com­bi­na­tion of the two pre­vi­ous ones put out by the same com­pa­ny.) Would you believe the local news 25 years ago was sim­i­lar to one a fel­low mys­tery writer based her first mys­tery on, and inci­dent­ly, start­ed my habit of clip­ping these columns? The author is Sta­cy Juba, and her book is Twen­ty-Five Years Ago Today. Her book cen­tered around an unsolved mur­der. My local arti­cle tells of an unsolved dis­ap­pear­ance of a 15-year old girl who left with a man “well known to her.” Foul play and her death were feared and she is still miss­ing. Sta­cy, are you up for anoth­er plot? Or, since Sta­cy has sev­er­al oth­er books com­plete­ly plot­ted and pub­lished, am I?

Not only was the 50-year-ago news of a huge snow storm with ultra-low tem­per­a­tures one that I remem­ber well, those ultra-low tem­per­a­tures were repeat­ed this year. For­tu­nate­ly, the twelve-foot drifts weren’t. Of course, that affect­ed the annu­al Penn­syl­va­nia Farm Show—both times. In fact, that hap­pens so often, the fre­quent bad, cold weath­er for the same week is referred to as Farm Show Weath­er.

Now, 75 years ago the weath­er wasn’t real­ly men­tioned. That news was from 1939, a year still in the depres­sion that start­ed ten years ear­li­er and wasn’t com­plete­ly erased until the arms build-up to win World War II began after Pearl Har­bor Day on Decem­ber 7, 1941. Local­ly, 21 “relief chislers” had defraud­ed the gov­ern­ment for a total of $1,408. One woman thought the gov­ern­ment knew she had a job. Her hus­band was in jail and she had to walk ten miles to and from her job. Per­son­al­ly, I think I’d have let her keep the $100.10 she was over­paid. (There are cer­tain facts in this sto­ry that remind me of today as well. Can you say “hard times for many?”)

For­tu­nate­ly, the 100-years ago today sto­ry doesn’t remind me of cur­rent events. A man who owned the local store and ran the enclosed post office came down with “the dread­ed” dis­ease of small pox. Not only was his busi­ness estab­lish­ment quar­an­tined and closed, but his entire fam­i­ly was quar­an­tined and two near­by schools were closed for two weeks.

Have you heard any old news late­ly that could have been said about yes­ter­day as well? If my com­ments sec­tion is work­ing, I’d love to hear it.

News From The Past

Does your news­pa­per pub­lish week­ly reminders of our past? Mine does. One week they tell us what hap­pened 25 and 75 years ago. The next week they give us the lat­est from 50 and 100 years ago. (They’ve been in … Con­tin­ue read­ing