Unwanted Springhill puppies get free flight to Minnesota
Pilots N Paws offers free transportation for rescue animals across the United States.
Mar. 13, 2014 link to original story
Written by Vickie Welborn
SPRINGHILL — When a stray pregnant dog decided to have her litter of puppies on Carroll and Helen Timmons’ patio after Christmas, the retired couple was overwhelmed.
They quickly reached out to Springhill-based Furbaby Second Chance Rescue and its leaders, Judy Teague and Liz Harkins. Hopes that homes soon would be found didn’t quite work out that way.
It seems no one wanted the Labrador mix puppies, with the exception of one of the surviving eight that did go to an adopter. Justin Thomas of Lumberjack Rescue-Springhill also helped spread the word.
“We tried so hard to find homes locally but we got no response,” Teague said. “I guess Lab puppies are a dime a dozen.”
That’s where the strong networking among animal rescue groups came into play. Through word of mouth and sharing information about the puppies on Facebook, Teague learned of No Dog Left Behind in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
She emailed a photo of the pups snuggling in a wheelbarrow to the canine rescue and shortly after five were singled out for adoption – sight unseen. “I’m sure when they get there the other two will not be far behind,” Teague said.
Then came the big hurdle: how to transport seven rambunctious Labrador puppies almost 1,000 miles to the north.
Teague was familiar with Pilots N Paws but wasn’t initially optimistic she could get any interest from the volunteer pilots to make a stop in Springhill. She was wrong. Within two hours of making an inquiry on the group’s website, Teague received two responses from pilots willing to make the trip.
“It was amazing,” Teague said.
The troublesome winter weather delayed for several weeks the effort of Pilots N Paws coordinator Carolyn Harris to prepare a flight plan. Thursday it all finally came together.
Retired 747 pilot Jim Carney arrived early at the Springhill Airport from his home near Memphis, Tenn. He was tasked with the first leg of a four-stop trip that took him, the puppies, their leashes, Ginger cookie snacks, water and puppy pads to Kennett, Mo.
Pilots Eric Cooper, Jim Bordoni and Jim Lyon were lined up to take up the other legs from Olathe, Kan., Des Moines, Iowa and ultimately to Princeton, Minn.
“They’ll be there at 7 (Thursday evening),” Carney said.
Carney said pilots such as he donate their time and flight-related expenses because they love what they do. Combine the fun in the air with dogs and you have his two passions in life.
Often, Carney said he is asked why he or the other pilots don’t offer similar transport services for people in need. His explanation is what they do does help humans because of the joy the animals bring to their lives.
It’s the rescuers, he said, who have the tough job of caring for the dogs until homes are found. “What I do is easy. … I love flying and I’ll keep on doing this as long as I can. Why not?” he asked. He estimates he’s transported about 1,050 animals in the past five years.
That experience aided Carney who calmly talked to the puppies as he positioned them inside of several crates in his white and blue Beech Baron. Their initial whimpers at the strange surroundings would stop as soon as they settled down, he assured the rescuers assembled for the send-off.
There were a few stiff upper lips as those who had a hand in the puppies’ care for the past two months watched with mixed emotions as Carney taxied down the airport runway and took to the air. Carroll Timmons joked how he’d miss how the gang — which had been sheltered at his house since their birth — would rush the back door with excitement any time he opened it. But all realized the four-legged babies, unwanted in Louisiana, were being welcomed with open arms in Minnesota.