Debi and Bob Boies were adopting a rescue doberman from Tallahassee, Fla., to their home in Landrum, S.C., and needed someway to transport the dog quickly and safely. Friend Jon W. Wehrenberg suggested he fly to Tallahassee to pick up the dog.
Upon completing the mission, Jon began researching animal rescues and found that roughly 5 million animals are euthanized each year.
From that humble start, Debi and Jon teamed up to co-found Pilots N Paws.
The pair established both an online bulletin board (PilotsNPaws.org) designed to pair pilots with rescue opportunities and a not-for-profit 501 c3 corporation so pilots are able to deduct their costs as a charitable contribution. They don’t offer tax advice, but say the deduction can be for owner pilots as well as renter pilots. The more detailed your records, the more deduction you may be eligible for.
The organization has a loose structure. More than 370 pilots have registered, for free, and more than 2,000 total users have signed up. There is no pressure for any pilot to fly any mission. If they are able and willing, the pilot and pet rescuer get together to hammer out details and the mission is accomplished.
Any animals can be rescued, not just dogs and cats. Debi and Jon know of a recent flight that rescued three snakes and a monster lizard from south Florida and another flight carried a pot-bellied pig and a baby chick.
While Pilots N Paws encourages pilots to send in photos and share their experience, there is no formal tracking of missions completed or animals rescued. “However, we are confident we’ve saved more than 1,000 animals,” noted co-founder Boies.