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Pilots N Paws

1 Day, 2 Planes, 11 Lives Changed Forever

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Friends of Ashe County Animals published “1 Day, 2 Planes, 11 Lives Changed Forever…Thank You, Pilots N Paws!” on September 15, 2013.


On August 30, 2013, the world changed forever for a family of 11 Lab-mix dogs from Ashe County NC thanks to the generosity of pilots from Pilots N Paws who flew the family from Ashe County Airport (KGEV) to Romeoville IL (KLOT) via Louisville Regional Business Airport. However, this little family’s story starts about a month earlier.

Back on July 31, as she found herself unceremoniously surrendered to Ashe County Animal Control (ACAC) along with 10 then 5-day old puppies, Pearl couldn’t have imagined the outpouring of human kindness that would come her way over the next month. It just so happened that Cathy Allinder, who regularly visits ACAC to photograph and evaluate adoptable animals for Friends of Ashe County Animals happened to be there at the moment Pearl and pups were surrendered as unwanted to the shelter. FACA is an all-volunteer group that publicizes adoptable animals at the shelter to potential regional adopters via Internet/Social Media resources as well as networks them with approved, reputable rescues. FACA then facilitates getting the animals with committed rescues to the Vet for needed vetting at the rescue’s expense and coordinates transportation to the rescue as most rescues do not have local volunteers to accomplish these tasks.


FACA quickly contacted Chicagoland Lab Rescue, a rescue who had helped numerous Ashe County Lab/Lab-mixes in the past. CLR immediately said “YES!”; however, they needed a local foster to give the pups time to get stronger pre-transport and to give themselves time to find a foster in Chicago. Without hesitation, Cathy and her husband Tom stepped up to take on that labor-intensive role.

During the month at the Allinder home, the pups thrived and started to develop individual personalities. Pearl gained much needed weight. The little family received all the vetting that they could given that Mom was nursing and pups were so young. They also received the necessary Health Certifications for travel across state lines.


Remembering a message she’d gotten several weeks earlier offering flight assistance out of KGEV, the founder of FACA reached out to Pam Farthing, who along with her IFR pilot husband (John) volunteers for Pilots N Paws. FACA also posted the flight to the PNP Ride Board (where FACA posts as AsheNCAnimals). Pam & John immediately began planning a flight path and felt that Louisville KY would make a great halfway point. Soon KLOT-based pilot, David Collom, for whom this would be only his 2nd PNP flight, came to the rescue with an offer of a flight from Louisville to Romeoville.


After a “nail biter” of a morning hoping for Mother Nature’s cooperation, the Ashe County skies finally cleared making lift off to a new life possible for this deserving family.

Meeting the second pilot, David Collom, in Louisville KY, Pam Farthing makes special note that, “Louisville Executive Aviation treated us like royalty. We were all escorted into the air-conditioned FBO where staff offered Pearl a biscuit and water.” After a 15 minute break, Pearl and pups winged their way to Romeoville thanks to David!


Friends of Ashe County Animals is extremely grateful to everyone who made magic happen for Pearl and family. Having Pilots N Paws assistance to help fly this family out of the very rural KGEV Airport was a godsend in multiple ways. It is difficult to find volunteer pilots in the mountainous, rural area of Ashe County NC (this is the 3rd PNP flight from KGEV since FACA’s founding in 10/2011). The Farthings reside in the Raleigh area but happen to spend summers in the NC Mountains. Thankfully, they made their presence in the area known to FACA. FACA has sent multiple dogs up the Chicagoland Lab Rescue previously. Transporting rescue animals via ground to Chicago requires a 853 mile, 11+ driver journey that involves a volunteer overnighting the dogs in Indiana. This journey usually takes FACA about a week or more to coordinate as drivers have to be secured for each leg. Not only did this Pilots N Paws flight save work coordinating a lengthy, complex ground transport, more importantly, it saved stress on Pearl and her pups. For that, FACA & CLR cannot express our appreciation enough!

View the story on the Friends of Ashe County Animals for even more pictures.

2 thoughts on “1 Day, 2 Planes, 11 Lives Changed Forever”

  1. Karen Hjemboe says:

    What an amazing story! Pilots n Paws is such a selfless group of pilots. Blessings on the great work you do!

  2. Ursula says:

    Great job! God bless!

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