At Sun N Fun this past Spring, I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Wehrenberg and Debi Boies, co-founders of Pilots N Paws, an organization dedicated to rescuing unwanted pets from euthanasia.
Jon and Debi are like many dedicated to a cause: they are engaging, focused, and intensely driven to succeed. At their core is a profound respect and empathy for the lives of animals – bred to serve human needs – then discarded when they are no longer wanted, useful, or convenient.
Sadly, thousands of discarded pets die needlessly. In many areas around the country, shelters have more demand than animals. So when Jon and Debi asked whether I thought it would be possible to enlist enough pilots to relocate 5,000 pets in a single week, I answered “Yes.”
I like bold statements and audacious plans. In the hands of dedicated people, they extend not only our reach, but our grasp. Success, to my way of thinking, is equally a product of the effort – as well as achieving a lofty goal.
I don’t think my confidence was unwarranted. Pilots are mission-centric. We like planning, enjoy the challenge of navigating the “fog” of implementation, and take keen satisfaction in a positive outcome.
What I didn’t count on was an objection that Jon and Debi hear often – “What about people? Aren’t people more important?” In a word, the answer is “Yes.” But for most of us, transporting the critically ill on schedule to distant medical services simply isn’t an option. The reasons are many – suitable aircraft, appropriate insurance, required ratings… Relocating a pet, on the other hand, can wait on VFR weather, an empty seat or baggage compartment, and a willingness to fly a few hours – for which the majority of us are eminently well-qualified.
For those blessed with the means, we can and should volunteer our time and resources to the service of people in need. And for those of us with more humble blessings, let me suggest that we can also serve people in need. Pets improve our quality of life. The special kinship they provide is unique. Their health benefits are well-documented in the language of science, by our joy in their companionship, and our tears with their passing.
A few hours of flying can deliver so much… a life well-lived for so many.
Visit http://pilotsnpaws.org for more information about how you can help save lives.