All across the United States volunteer pilots assist with the rescue of animals that have narrowly escaped euthanasia at high-kill shelters by flying them to new homes or no-kill shelters where they have a much higher chance of adoption. These pilots donate their time, fuel costs, and use of their planes. Student pilots can take advantage of flying animal rescue missions with their instructors as this is a fantastic opportunity for pilots to add meaning to the hours they fly and make some costs associated with flying tax deductible. If pilots rent a plane for the purpose of flying animals in need, 100% of the cost of the plane rental is tax deductible.
Transport is needed because there is a supply and demand aspect to homeless animals. There are areas of the country with overwhelming numbers of animals in need of a home, and other areas where there’s an abundance of people looking to adopt a pet. One trend we often see is more homeless animals in southern states. For example an animal in a southern shelter may never find an adoptive home locally, but if that same animal is transported to a northern state, a home could easily be found within just a matter of days. Volunteer pilots are also needed in cases where injured wildlife need to be moved for treatment. It is very common to see volunteer pilots assist our veterans with transport of service animals or to be reunited with their military working dog partners after the dogs retirement. Assisting with supplies for animals during times of disaster is a much needed volunteer service.
For decades rescuers transported animals by car. A typical transport could involve 10+ drivers, each driving a one hour leg. Generally speaking this form of transport is more stressful on the animals as they have to change vehicles and come in contact with a higher number of people as compared to air travel.
Flying animals in need affords pilots a compelling reason to take to the air. One pilot who flies for Pilots N Paws (PNP)–an organization comprised of volunteer pilots who provide lifesaving flights to animals in need–described his experience, “Now I have a reason to be in the air. You love to fly, but there are only so many holes you can poke into the sky.” Before joining PNP, Jeff would take to the air mostly to practice approaches, landings, and various exercises to sharpen his aeronautic skills. “You practice this and that, but now you can do all of the practicing you want while heading somewhere to do something,” said Jeff. Like many PNP pilots, Jeff is happy to combine his passion for aviation with his love for animals.
Flying these animals is a labor of love for all involved. If you’re a pilot who is an animal lover and wishes to share your gift of flight to save a life this is the public benefit flying opportunity for you!