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Pilots N Paws

Missy’s journey: Rescue of blind puppy highlights season of generosity

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By GREG JORDANBluefield Daily Telegraph

December 30, 2010

I have seen dogs dressed up in costumes, sweaters and what I’d swear was a ball gown, but I’ve never seen one wearing headphones. This changed when a puppy was flown to Pennsylvania from the Mercer County Airport.

We at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph noticed Missy the heeler puppy — those are cattle dogs — while we were delivering a huge load of pet toys and food to their recipients at the Mercer County Animal Shelter. Personnel at the Mercer shelter and the Tazewell County and McDowell County animal shelters as well as Pet Haven in Falls Mill, Va., accepted dog food, cat food, pet beds, cleaning supplies and other goods. It was a regular cornucopia of pet goods.

In the midst of all this organized turmoil, Missy was being made snug in a pet carrier for her trip to the airport. She seemed to be taking the process as well as you’d expect a puppy — not all of them travel well — but I was especially surprised when I learned that she was partially blind.

The pup had been found wandering in the middle of a road, and a veterinarian thought she had been bumped by a vehicle. She was blind and she was having seizures, too. Shelter Director Lisa Nisbet took the pup home to foster her and eventually her seizures stopped and she seemed to recover part of her sight; however, she still needed a lot of help.

An organization called Pilots N Paws offered a way to transport Missy from West Virginia to a pet rescue organization in Pennsylvania. Private pilots donate their services to fly dogs and cats in need to locations that are often hundreds of miles away.

The reason for using air travel is to reduce the stress the animals are subjected to when they are taken on a long journey. Pets that have health problems have a trip that lasts only one or two hours instead of one that stresses them out for five, six or more hours at a time. You can’t explain to them that you’re doing this for their own good.

The shelter sent us some photographs of Missy being prepared for her flight, and Managing Editor Samantha Perry called us over to her office to see the pictures of a cute puppy snuggled in a blanket and wearing a little headset to protect her ears from the plane’s engine noise. She looked like she was going to be the co-pilot.

That pet rescue was only one of the humanitarian efforts we covered during the holiday season. Churches and schools donated to local food banks, organizations and individuals donated to the Daily Telegraph’s Little Jimmie Christmas party so hundreds of children would have gifts for Christmas, and organizations like the Salvation Army and the Bluefield Union Mission donated toys and food to families in need.

Sometimes I can understand why the public feels what’s been called “donor fatigue” because almost every time you look at the news, you see another worthy cause seeking funds. It can get overwhelming because physically and financially you just can’t contribute to every worthwhile effort in the community.

One way around this overwhelming feeling is to pick out one particular cause or program that’s near and dear to your heart. It could involve feeding the hungry, helping victims of domestic violence, helping tutor students who need extra help, assisting families that need home insulation, volunteering at a senior center or animal shelter, or any other endeavor you consider worthwhile.

Sometimes I envy those people who have found a real worthwhile cause, something they’re really passionate about. When you’re in the news business, your passion is getting the news out as best you can, but you can feel a bit of “donor fatigue” yourself when you have to go off in so many different directions and shift your focus among so many different issues and causes. You feel good when you help get the word out about an effort that needs money or volunteers, but you’re still an observer. Our Little Jimmie project and the Prerogative magazine pet food drive helps us get over that feeling of being spread too thin because it gives us causes of our own.

The holiday season is just about over, but the need for help won’t disappear when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. There will still be plenty of people facing hardships ranging from poverty to poor health, the food pantries will still need donations and homeless dogs and cats will still need help. The world keeps offering plenty of reasons to get involved and if not fix all of its problems, at least help clear up one or two.

Greg Jordan is a senior reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com.