Calling all pilots and animal lovers! On Saturday, Sept. 27, a special air caravan containing rescued animals will depart from the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in South Carolina as part of the Southeast Aviation Expo. Their destination? New homes and non-kill shelters throughout the U.S.
Each year, Pilots N Paws holds a large rescue flyway event. This event has never taken place in Greenville. Last year, when it was held in Hinesville, Ga., 50 private pilots volunteered to fly more than 400 animals to safety and others joined in with vans for shorter, over land travel.
“Many healthy and adoptable animals are put down each year. While neutering or spaying animals is the ultimate goal because it helps reduce new births and overpopulation, there are animals that are already here that need to be saved,” stated Pilots N Paws President & Co-founder Debi Boies.
Throughout the year, Pilots N Paws, a 501 c (3) registered charitable organization, connects pilots and animals in jeopardy of being “put down” due to the high number of animals needing homes being far greater than the number of families looking to adopt a pet.
Unfortunately, many animals aren’t “fixed” so they reproduce, and the offspring are eventually dropped off at shelters. In other regions of the country fewer animals are available for adoption. Pilots N Paws was formed to help get animals from areas of high animal euthanasia to new homes in other regions. At least once a year, volunteers come together for a huge transport effort to help raise awareness of the problem and find others willing to step in to help on the ground, through a donation or up in the air.
Pilots N Paws is a 501 c (3) charitable organization that has connected, via an online forum, over 4,200 volunteer general aviation pilots, from every state in the U.S., with people helping animals in need to organize lifesaving flights for over 60,000 animals. Portions of these flights are also tax deductible. Want to help? Volunteer pilots and donations are always needed, according to officials with the organization.
GMU is the busiest general aviation airport in South Carolina and is a self-sufficient entity with financial strength that doesn’t rely on local taxpayers for funding. GMU is home to Greenville Jet Center, the largest FBO) in the state, as well as more than 25 other aviation-related businesses creating 453 jobs that annually contribute more than $35.2 million to the local economy.