The heartbreaking story of the Gulf oil spill doesn’t end with the birds, marine life, and other wildlife that have been impacted; the spill has also resulted in many homeless pets along the Gulf coast as families have lost jobs and homes. Shelters are filled and hundreds of pets have been euthanized or are facing a very uncertain future.
In September there’s a great effort underway by Pilots N Paws, an online forum that connects animal rescue groups and volunteer pilots. The group, which moves thousands of homeless pets each year, is launching the Pilots N Paws Gulf Coast Rescue Flyway on the weekend of September 18, 2010. Pilots and other volunteers will try to relocate hundreds of animals from the Gulf Coast disaster areas to shelters and fosters in other parts of the country.
“These animals need help now,” says Debi Boies, co-founder of Pilots N Paws. “Many had families who loved them and are victims of the oil spill. Their owners have lost their jobs, their homes and are barely surviving. They no longer have the means to care for their pets.”
According to the National Council on Pet Population, 9.6 million shelter animals are needlessly euthanized each year. Since the oil spill, one shelter in Louisiana euthanized 900 in a single month! The aim of Pilots N Paws is to decrease this number by connecting shelters and rescue groups with pilots willing to transport animals to safe homes.
With the help of the Pilots N Paws website, rescuers and foster homes in high-kill areas are able to locate their counterparts in areas of the country where high-kill rates are not the rule. These no-kill shelters then make space for the animals being rescued. The sending and receiving pair team up with a volunteer pilot, who provides transportation.
How to Help: To make this life-saving, heart-warming event a success, many more volunteers are needed. Opportunities include:
- Pilots – Register online to fly pets from shelters to their foster or forever homes.
- Short- and long-term foster homes – Take care of pets, ranging from overnight stays en route to extended periods, while adopters are found.
- General volunteers – Local shelters always need help walking dogs, cleaning cages and filing paperwork.
In addition to volunteer roles, there are other ways to help:
- Spread the word – Tell your local animal shelter about Pilots N Paws. If there’s a small airport nearby, ask the manager to let its pilots know about the event.
- Donate – Pilots N Paws, rescue groups and shelter donations are usually tax-deductible.
- Adopt – Consider taking one of the rescued pets into your own home.
“Volunteers are the key to our success,” says Boies. “Without the pilots and rescue groups, our program wouldn’t exist. The more volunteers we have the better chance of saving helpless animals.”
Pilots N Paws is a 501(c)(3) organization, so pilots‚ expenses relating to transport flights are tax-deductible. Pilots N Paws is an excellent example of the critical role general aviation plays in our everyday lives.
For more information, or to help out with the Pilots N Paws Gulf Coast Rescue Flyway, visit www.pilotsnpaws.org. To learn more about other ways general aviation pilots help every day, visit GA Serves America. Petmate and Subaru are proud sponsors of Pilots N Paws and the Pilots N Paws Gulf Coast Rescue Flyway.
Photos courtesy Pilots N Paws and Petmate