FARMINGDALE, NY – Local pilots took to the skies to save the lives of our furry friends and to raise awareness about a problem that still plagues the country: euthanasia.
CBS2s Vanessa Murdock witnessed the joy of the mission as she flew “Pilots to the Rescue”.
Michael Schneider, founder and top dog at Pilots to the Rescue, welcomes two rescues to their home. The journey was long for the mother-daughter duo, Lorelei and Rory – they are from South Carolina.
Pilots to the Rescue flew south on Wednesday to rescue them and three others. Murdock was allowed to come along.
Schneider, who started the nonprofit in 2015, says it’s the perfect combination of his love of flying and saving animals.
“Growing up, I always had rescue dogs and pets, much to my parents’ dismay. I also collected neighborhood animals and nursed them back to health,” Schneider said.
Volunteer pilot Victor Girgenti says he and his wife Lisa are great dog people. For this flight, he donates his skills and his ride – it’s his jet.
“Pilots love to fly, and a lot of time I will just fly on the weekend for no other reason than to make a hole in the sky. I have a lot of money. This way we are doing something good,” Girgenti said.
The mission: to save creatures large and small from certain death. Dogs and cats are the most common companions, but wolves and sea turtles also fly. Recently, Schneider flew with his son Jack from New Jersey to Cape Fear, NC, where they let those sea turtles out in the wild.
To date, the organization has flown more than 1,000 animals.
“Pure numbers. It’s never enough. But what we’re doing is raising awareness about this problem that we have in the United States,” said Schneider.
“The ASPCA says we are still euthanizing nearly 1 million dogs and cats in the country,” Schneider said.
Crates are loaded and the plan is positioned – and the flight takes off.
About an hour and a half after takeoff, touch-down. Waiting for the Tarmac: Five sweet furry faces, brought there by Rick Roper, president of Maverick Pet Transportation & Rescue, and his sidekick Maverick.
“Most of these dogs come from the streets, or hamster situations, or puppy mill cases, and that’s not a life they deserve,” Roper said.
One by one, the boys loaded the most precious cargo, gathered the necessary paperwork, and took to the air again: a little more weight on board, and – nothing against Pilots to the Rescue – but also a whole lot more love. Most of the new furry friends settled in quickly, but Lorelei couldn’t resist the view. Finally she sat down, fell into a deep sleep.
After an hour of flying through the blue, they landed for the last time, unloaded and opened the crates.
It’s a new place, a new beginning for each of the beautiful dogs. The final leg of their journey? A New Chance Animal Rescue in Westchester, where they will be placed with foster families until their “furever” homes are ready.
Schneider shares that his goal for 2022 is to save 1,000. He has about 15 volunteer pilots who regularly work with him to make this possible.
For more information about Pilots to the Rescue, CLICK HERE.