Pilots donating time to rescue dogs


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A local pilot from /*Livermore*/ has already made half a dozen flights and was about to embark on another.

It's not everyday you see a couple pups cruising an airport runway, stretching their legs before takeoff, but these are pups with a destination.

"We're flying two nursing moms and their puppies that we rescued from an L.A. shelter," said Penny Foundation dog rescuer Alexis Adams.

Adams is a dog rescuer in Southern California. She has hooked up with Cindy Smith of Livermore, a mortgage broker and private pilot with a passion for dogs, who volunteers for a national organization called Pilots N Paws.

"It's basically a forum where animal rescues can meet up with pilots who are willing to donate their fuel, time and aircraft to help transport animals like this to safety. A lot of times after they're rescued they need to get to foster homes," said Smith.

Some are fostered first, others have already been adopted and are being flown to their new families. It's a growing solution to a nationwide problem -- too many dogs, not enough homes -- and that's why in the United States, overwhelmed animal control shelters euthanize from four to six million dogs a year.

"The No. 1 thing people can do is spay and neuter; that is the leading cause of why there are too many dogs in the shelters," said Adams.

And it's a terrible dilemma choosing which to save first.

"It's tough, but you know, you do what you can. These dogs we did get out because they did have one-day-old, two-day-old puppies, so we got them out as soon as we could," said Adams.

Now they're preparing to fly from the Livermore Airport to Washington state and also Canada, where they're finding more demand in the north for adopting smaller dogs, like poodle and chiahuahua mixed-breeds. Maddox and Jake are two of six puppies on their way to Vancouver. They have one stopover and just over 500 miles to go on their way to a new home.

Since Pilots N Paws started in 2008, it has grown to about 500 volunteer pilots nationwide. Together they have helped transport and save the lives of hundreds of dogs. Now they are hoping more people will be encouraged to pitch in during a special September rescue event called Pilots N Paws 5000.

"Our goal is to rescue 5,000 animals nationwide, and so we're trying to get the word out to animal rescues, pilots, fosters -- anybody else who's willing to volunteer to help out," said Smith.

Sept. 12th - 20th is the designated week for the Pilots N Paws 5000.



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