By Vanessa Murdock
Farmingdale, New York (WCBS) — Local pilots took to the skies to save the lives of our four-legged friends and raise awareness of an issue that continues to plague the country: euthanasia.
CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock witnessed the joy of mission when she flew with “Pilots to the Rescue.”
Michael Schneider, founder and leader of Pilots to the Rescue, welcomes two rescues home. It’s been a long journey for mother-daughter duo, Lorelei and Rory – they’re originally from South Carolina.
Rescue pilots flew south to save them and three others on Wednesday. Murdock must follow.
Schneider, who started the nonprofit in 2015, says it’s the perfect combination of his love of flight and animal rescue.
“Growing up, I always had rescue dogs and pets, much to the dismay of my parents. I also picked up animals from the neighborhood and cared for them,” Schneider said.
Volunteer pilot Victor Girgenti shares that he and his wife Lisa are big dogs. For this flight, he donates his skills and his ride – it’s his jet.
“Pilots love to fly, and most of the time I fly on a weekend for no other reason than to blow a hole in the sky. That’s a lot of money. This way we are doing something good,” Girgenti said.
The mission: 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, North Carolina, where they released these sea turtles into the wild.
To date, the organization has transported over 1,000 animals.
“Pure numbers. It’s never enough. But what we’re doing is raising awareness of this problem that we have in the United States,” Schneider said.
“The ASPCA says we are still euthanizing nearly one million dogs and cats nationwide,” Schneider said.
The crates are loaded and the plane is positioned – and the flight takes off.
About an hour and a half after takeoff, land. Waiting on the tarmac: five sweet furry faces, brought in by Rick Roper, President of Maverick Pet Transportation & Rescue, and his sidekick Maverick.
“Most of these dogs come from the streets, or from hoarding situations, or from puppy mill cases, and it’s not a life they deserve,” Roper said.
One by one, the guys loaded up the most valuable cargo, collected the necessary paperwork, then took to the skies again: a little more weight on board, and – nothing against Pilots to the Rescue – but a whole lot more love. too. Most of the new furry friends nestled quickly, but Lorelei couldn’t resist the sight. Eventually she calmed down, fell into a deep sleep.
After an hour of flying in the blue, they landed one last time, unloaded and opened the boxes.
It’s a new place, a new beginning for each of the beautiful dogs. The last leg of their journey? At 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 people. He has about 15 volunteer pilots who regularly work with him to help him get there.
For more information on Pilots to the Rescue, please visit: pilotstotherescue.org
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