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Pilots N Paws

Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel finds a new friend in Joplin, or in this case “Joplyn”

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Mike Bettes and Joplin, Mo. will forever be intertwined after the May 22 tornado that struck the town. Bettes and crew were in the middle of the destruction less than 30 minutes after it touched down and did widespread damage to the area.

Pilot Jim Carney(center) with shelter director Karen Aquino, assistant Jack and photojournalists prepare a wonderful send off for “Joplyn” and “Annie”

Now, Bettes and Joplin have a different connection. Or rather, Bettes and Joplyn.

“Joplyn” enjoying her flight!

That’s the name of the golden retriever that was adopted by Bettes and his fiance, Allie, over the weekend when pet adoptions were held at the Joplin Humane Society.

Allie, fiance of Mike Bettes, meets Joplyn and Annie at the airport in Tennessee

After the single-deadliest tornado on modern record killed over 150 people, scores of dogs and cats were left without owners or homes, and there was a call for folks to travel to Joplin and adopt the animals so they could have a home.

So when Bettes and Weather Channel Senior Producer Mike Jenkins ventured back to Joplin to mark one month since the tornado hit, they came across two furry friends that they felt compelled to adopt: Joplyn, and Annie (an Aussie that Jenkins would claim).

Joplyn finds a comforting hand in co-pilot Jeff Parrott

Adorable Annie adopted by Weather Channel producer Mike Jenkins making sure her pilot knows the flight plan!

“When we went back to Joplin last week (to do stories memorializing one month after the tornado hit), we saw the dogs but didn’t know how to get them home, so I probably wasn’t going to make an adoption,” Bettes said. “But a text I got from (Joplin Humane Society Director) Karen Aquino made me change my mind.”

Pilot “Uncle Jim” in Joplin

In that text, Aquino informed Bettes about an organization known as Pilots ‘n Paws, a group that specializes in transporting rescue and special needs animals. Pilots Jim Carney and Jeff Parrott flew Joplyn and Annie (an Aussie that Jenkins adopted) from Joplin to Nashville. From there, the two dogs were picked up at the airport by Bettes’ fiance, and she drove them to Atlanta to meet their new families.

Allie “walks” the girls who just want to find the car!

Carney, who is known as “Uncle Jim,” grew up just outside of Joplin and still lives in Missouri, so the flight was especially meaningful for him.

“He (Carney) wanted to do the flight,” Bettes said. “It was an abnormally long flight for them to make in a twin-engine prop plane, but Jim said they were the best-behaved dogs he has ever flown with.”

Allie assists Pilot Jim and co-pilot Jeff, take me home boys!

Bettes said both Joplyn and Annie are adjusted and doing well in their new homes.

In all, 747 animals were adopted in Joplin over the weekend, an astounding number that has thrilled the Joplin Humane Society. After a traumatizing month following the EF-5 tornado’s destruction of Joplin, it looks like these pets have finally found loving homes to join.

Mike Bettes and Joplyn, home sweet home……..

If you didn’t have the chance to make it to Joplin last weekend, one suggestion is to visit your local animal shelter and adopt a pet and, to honor the animals in Joplin, name it Joplin. You could also visit Humane Societies in other tornado-stricken areas, or visit Homelesspets.com

story: courtesy Sean Breslin, weather.com

photos: courtesy Jeff Parrott and Allison Chinchar

Video: created by Jeff Parrott

UPDATE** Joplyn and Annie will be a special guests on The Weather Channel Friday morning,  July 1st at 9:50 a.m. Tune in!  Joplyn will also be making a camero appearance on Sunday Morning, July 3rd for a special Fourth of July doggie ice cream tasting segment .  Please watch!

UPDATE on Mike and Joplyn:  http://www.weather.com/video/mike-bettes-and-his-best-friend-joplyn-42676