SAVING THE LIVES OF INNOCENT ANIMALS
Pilots N Paws®, founded in 2008 by animal-lover Debi Boies and pilot Jon Wherenberg, is a non-profit organization that connects general aviation pilots willing to provide free transport, with people and organizations that rescue, shelter, or foster animals in order to save these animals’ lives. Rescued animals include but are not limited to dogs, cats, birds, pigs, reptiles, and rabbits. The organization currently has 2,466 pilot volunteers and 8,281 rescuers.
PlaneSense® Captain Mallory Corder has flown with co-pilot Brett Grooms on some of these Pilots N Paws® missions. Corder had been helping Grooms learn how to fly in inclement weather when he asked her to join him on a couple of rescue missions. On her first trip she flew with Grooms from Charleston, South Carolina to Lumberton, North Carolina, to deliver a dog for adoption. Upon arrival, the dog was named after Corder.
“A lot of the animals don’t have names, but we have to put something on the paperwork,” Grooms said. “I said we should name her Mallory, because Mallory the pilot was very sweet, and so was Mallory the dog.”
This was not the first time, however, that Grooms bonded with one of his passengers. In fact, Grooms said, “I had one dog that I really bonded with, and I followed up to find out what happened to the dog and flew with him twice.”
Although Grooms does not fly for a profession, he was enrolled in the United States Coast Guard and currently owns his own plane. Grooms has completed ten flights with Pilots N Paws® and explains that it’s “a good way to combine my love for aviation and animals. It’s a cool thing to know you have saved an animal’s life.”
Corder felt it was a privilege to participate as a volunteer pilot, and was honored to be asked. In volunteering her services, Corder even appeared in the book “Dog Is My Copilot” by Patrick Regan. The book chronicles inspiring stories from Pilots N Paws® trips and the efforts to save thousands of death-row animals by flying them to safe havens.
Volunteer pilots have also assisted with dogs who have been adopted by our soldiers who have served overseas in Afghanistan. Once the soldiers return to the U.S., Pilots N Paws® picks up the final leg of the transport and flies the animals to the soldiers’ homes. The organization even flew a Steppe eagle from Afghanistan, which Navy Seals rescued and saved after the eagle was shot. That eagle is now sharing space at Berkshire Bird Paradise with an American eagle.
Grooms agreed that Pilots N Paws® is a great opportunity for willing pilots; however, “Pilots have the easy part; there is a ton of work that happens in terms of organization, and a lot of things that happen behind the scenes to make this possible.”