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Pilots N Paws

Guidelines for Pilots

Please take a few minutes to read the suggested guidelines and familiarize yourself with how best to participate in the Pilots N Paws program.  It takes a little time to read through all the information and if you have questions, please ask.  Pilot and rescue volunteers are very generous about helping, advising, and cheering on new volunteer pilots.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send us an email anytime.  Thank you so much for caring and coming on board to make a difference!

Pilots N Paws is a Charitable Organization, with No Fees Charged for Rescue Flights

Under Parts 61 and 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulation, private pilots may not seek compensation for their services.  However, Pilots N Paws (WWW PILOTSNPAWS ORG INC) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and has received an interpretation from the FAA Office of Chief Counsel that Pilots N Paws’ rescue flights are considered by the FAA to be covered by the FAA’s compassionate flight policy. Consequently, any pilot who flies a rescue flight is eligible to claim portions of their flight expenses as a charitable deduction for tax purposes.

For additional clarification regarding FAR interpretations on volunteer pilots seeking compensation for their flights, please read the excellent explanation on the Air Care Alliance website: https://www.aircarealliance.org/resources-for-groups/legal-reimbursements/

Flying with Pet Passengers – Preparing for a Flight

  • Consider the size and weight of pet passengers, and ensure your aircraft has space to accommodate pets and crates. Don’t forget to include the weight in your weight and balance calculations.
  • Many pets will be best transported in crates. It is a good idea to have various sized crates available. Often a combination of sizes will maximize the number of animals that can potentially be carried. Pilots N Paws and our generous partner, Petmate, will provide transport crates and pet safety harnesses to pilots, or you can use your own. You can request crates by emailing [email protected] .
  • Please use some type of bedding for the crates. Use bedding that is clean, and that can be washed before reuse.
  • It may be possible and even desirable to put more than one animal in a carrier. This allows more animals to be transported, but the animals need sufficient room to be comfortable and the animals must be accustomed to sharing a crate with each other. It is not recommended to make animals share a crate for the first time during a flight.
  • For larger animals, a pet harness that can be secured to seat belts or seat belt attachment points can also be considered. Please use only approved car safety transport harnesses.
  • Find out from your rescue contact if any of the animals you are transporting are in season. You may need to consider this when transporting animals of opposite genders.
  • Ask the sending rescue/agent for the proper paperwork showing that the animal has a current rabies tag, is old enough, and has a current health certificate. USDA information regarding traveling with pets is available at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/importexport/animal-import-and-export/travel-with-a-pet.
  • Allow animals to relieve themselves before being placed onboard the aircraft, and consider limiting their intake of food or water prior to the flight to minimize the risk of accidents (of course, they still can happen!)
  • If you have any questions or concerns relating to the animals you are transporting, please contact the sending or receiving rescue for counsel and advice before your flight.

Flying with Pet Passengers – During the Flight

  • Sedating animals during flights is a decision best left to veterinarians. It is probably not necessary to sedate an animal unless it has some type of behavior problems or is easily scared.
  • Almost all animals that are vocal preflight quiet down when loaded and sleep once the plane is taxing or airborne. Occasionally an animal will bark or yelp or make noises. Often talking in a soothing voice to the animal relaxes the animal.
  • Even if the flight is of short duration, accidents can happen. Carry plastic bags to put crate bedding in for the return flight to minimize odors in the cabin as a result of any accidents.
  • Be sensitive to the fact that unlike humans, who swallow and yawn when they feel the altitude changes in their ears, the animals being transported are unfamiliar with altitude changes and may feel discomfort during climbouts and descents. Consistent with safe operating procedures and ATC instructions, minimize the rate of climbs or descents to reduce discomfort to animals.
  • If possible, protect your pet passengers from loud noises. There are products on the market to protect the ears of dogs from loud noises such as aircraft engines.
  • Pilots beginning to fly with animals may wish to have some assistance on their initial flights. A person comfortable with general aviation flying and animals could prove to not only be good company, but can help with the various chores related to a flight. That person can also monitor the animals during the flight. Loading an animal into the carrier is sometimes difficult and it is especially beneficial if there is help available to the pilot. Ultimately, the final reward of getting these animals to safety is a feeling of great accomplishment. If you are an animal lover, you will understand the great gift you are giving.

Flying with Pet Passengers – After Landing

  • As soon as the trip is complete, provide water and food to the pet passengers, and allow them an opportunity to relieve themselves.
  • IMPORTANT!! ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR CRATES AND PLANE SEATS AFTER EACH TRANSPORT. Puppies are very susceptible to Parvo virus. Please take the time to read about Parvo virus (web link below) and the steps needed to protect the animals you transport and your own animals. Talk with your personal vet and investigate other possible transmittable diseases and how to prevent them. https://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/dognz/a/parvodog.htm

We would love to hear about your successful transports – so send us details about the trip such as a title, a short story, and a few photos for an opportunity to have your story posted! We have an easy way to submit stories. Please use this link to upload the photos and extra info for our team.

PNP Story Submission:


Please note that any materials you submit to us, including photographs, will become the property of Pilots N Paws, and may not be used in any form by any other person or organization without the express written permission of Pilots N Paws.  Further, Pilots N Paws reserves the right to make edits to your submissions as deemed necessary.

DISCLAIMER: The views and comments entered in these forums are personal and are not those of Pilots N Paws. Rescue flights are the responsibility of the sending and receiving parties and pilots. Pilots N Paws is only an electronic meeting place for those seeking to make arrangements for rescue flights. Pilots N Paws does not arrange for rescue flights, coordinate transports and/or rescue animals. Pilots volunteer their time and aircraft to the sending and receiving parties, not to Pilots N Paws.  Pilots N Paws is not responsible or liable for the conduct of any pilots or flights. Compliance with applicable law and the conduct of flights are the responsibility and liability of the sending and receiving parties and pilots.