I think this has hit upon one of the limitations of GA. It is difficult for me to say no to reasonable requests and for the rescues reading these posts here is a sad situation that really shows one of our weaknesses.
The comments I make are relating to my plane, and my not be completely accurate for all planes, but it is an example I can offer. The direct great circle route between Maury County in TN (KMRC) and W. Milford (4N1) is about 690 nautical miles (NM). In aviation we use knots for speed and nautical miles so to convert to statute miles add 15%.
With the average winds aloft this time of the year that is a 4 hour (or less) non-stop flight in my plane. It is my absolute personal limit because I will not fly beyond 4 hours because I have to pee, and my plane is at the limit of my fuel burn. I want to have options so I land with just under two hours of fuel remaining. If the winds on the day of the flight will not cooperate, the leg with the pup will exceed four hours and now I have a problem. I will have to stop adding at least 45 minutes to the leg time and making the flight even more expensive. I am also very reluctant to walk a dog during a stop for fuel because airport ramps are not pet friendly.
That introduces my real concern which has not really yet been addressed on the forum. Flight time is expensive. It is safe to say my direct and indirect costs when expressed per hour of flight time are over $200 an hour (my wife may read this so don't ask for my real costs
) for every hour the propeller turns. My fuel burn alone is 15 gallons per hour and at the $5.00 per gallon or more that is a big part of the total cost. Because the return flight is against the winds, I will not only spend more time in the air returning, I will require a stop adding to both cost and time. This would be to fly a single pup. I have looked at the pictures of the pup and it hurts to see pups like this in danger and distress, but for the same time and money I might be able to save seven to fourteen dogs because lately I have been filling the cabin. Using multiple dogs as my target passengers, I can justify some long flying days because the cost on a per dog basis becomes more reasonable.
Whether I did a flight like this alone, or if several pilots set up a relay this rescue flight is going to take a lot of time and be very expensive. I have had a request to fly a pup from Chattanooga (KCHA) to Philly (KPHL) so that trip could be split between two pups, but it would entail a deadhead to KCHA, from there to KMRC, then on to KPHL, and finally to 4N1. I get worn out just thinking of that, even though I know I have some flights of that nature in the near future scheduled, the number of dogs rescued is going to be much greater than one or two.
If anyone has any comments or suggestions perhaps we can move this to its own thread and kick it around.