Final Count, 174 Dogs and one Kitty! Pilots N Paws Memorial Rescue Flights for the Chesterfield 22
174 DOGS AND ONE KITTY FLOWN OUT OF SOUTH CAROLINA IN ONE OF THE LARGEST ANIMAL RESCUES IN U.S. HISTORY
On the morning of September 17, 2011, 174 dogs and one kitty were delivered by their rescuers to 36 pilots and their planes waiting on the tarmac of the Florence Regional Airport . Shortly thereafter, they were in the air, heading to no-kill shelters around the United States. The mass rescue was organized by the national charity, Pilots N Paws, and was one of the biggest in U.S. history. The Memorial Rescue Flight was dedicated to the “Chesterfield 22” – 22 dogs needlessly shot to death in Chesterfield, South Carolina in March.
Pilots N Paws is a national program that gives animals a second chance one flight at a time. This unique program brings together planes, pilots and shelters to rescue and transport dogs (and other animals) from overcrowded shelters, relocating them to organizations committed to finding them homes.
Of the thousands of rescue flights Pilots N Paws has made since its inception, the 3rd Annual Awareness Rescue Flight is an acute reminder of why Pilots N Paws exists. In March of this year, Deborah Farhi, a volunteer with the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter in South Carolina, noticed many of the dogs in the shelter were missing. Upon questioning, shelter volunteers accused four local animal control officers of shooting 22 of the dogs in their care to death instead of euthanizing them through the approved, humane methods.
Shortly thereafter, Farhi uncovered 2 of these dogs, each shot in the head, from a shallow landfill across the street from the shelter. Sheriff Sam Parker, who oversees animal control, put all four officers on leave, and within weeks the state attorney general asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to begin investigating the allegations. Today, the case against Chesterfield County is still under investigation.
To honor the 22 animals who lost their lives in March, this year’s Memorial Rescue Flights brought together 36 pilots and their planes to save at least 175 dogs from several South Carolina counties, including Chesterfield. Other volunteer pilots across the country joined in the event by making a memorial rescue flight in their region of the country.
The rescue flights started at the Florence Regional Airport in South Carolina and delivered dogs to the airport for flights to their new homes. Many were transferred to awaiting pilots and planes in West Point, VA to continue their journey on to rescue organizations in the north.
Pilots and Dogs landed at airports in Warrenton, VA, West Point, VA, Caldwell, NJ, Cochran, GA, Tampa, FL, Lakeland, FL, West Palm Beach, FL, and Naples, FL.
Two dedicated sponsors, Subaru and Petmate helped make this annual awareness event possible. They are committed to improving the lives of pets.
The following groups participated in sending and receiving this precious cargo. These groups are to be commended for their dedication!
Florence Humane Society, SC
Where Hope Lives, Chesterfield, SC
Animal Adoption League, SC
Darlington Humane Society, SC
Greenville Animal Care Services, SC
Spartanburg Humane Society, SC
Marion County Animal Shelter, SC
Young Williams Animal Care Center, TN
Foothills Humane Society, NC
Vance County Animal Shelter, NC
Waycross Animal Shelter, GA
Deborah Pandis, Foster for Mickie
Lakeland SPCA, FL
Poodle Rescue of Vermont, VT
Pet ResQ Inc, NJ
Wag On Inn, NJ
Last Chance Animal Rescue, NY
A Second Chance for Puppies and Kittens, FL
Lulu’s Rescue, PA
Tampa Humane Society, FL
Gateway Regional Rescue
Lucky Dog Rescue, D.C.
Humane Society of Naples, FL
Eleventh Hour Rescue, NJ
Husky House, NJ
Castle of Dreams, NJ
SPCA of Tampa Bay, FL
K-9 Lifesavers, D.C.
Rhode Island Rescue, RI
Georgia Canine Rescue and Rehab, GA
Pocono’s Pet Restort, NJ
Homeless Animal Rescue Team, D.C.
Unleashed New York, NY
Suncoast Animal League, FL
Two approved private adopters, FL and NJ
About Pilots N Paws:
Since the program began in February 2008, pilots have donated their time, planes and fuel to fly thousands of dogs from shelters where they faced certain death due to overcrowded shelters and pet overpopulation due to lack of pet sterilization. Some areas of the country are more likely to have overcrowded shelters and limited adoption opportunities. At www.pilotsnpaws.org, pilots can learn about animals in need and work directly with shelters and rescue groups to coordinate transportation. More than 8,000 shelters and rescues, along with 2,000 volunteer pilots are registered on the site