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Pilots N Paws

Volunteer Flyers Deliver Needy Pets to NOLA” special needs rehab, Thanks again Pilot Scott!

Story courtesy of reporter Curt Sprang ABC26News, WGNO

Scott Messinger’s single engine Saratoga arrived at Lakefront Airport Thursday night with a crew of two and two passengers.

“How’s my kids? I know you don’t know me, Charley,” said a waiting Kim Dudek to one of the two passengers after the plane stopped and its doors opened.

She was greeted with two quick barks from Charley, one of two dachshunds inside the plane. Charley and his flying companion, Jaxx, both have back injuries and require special doggie wheelchairs to move about. This morning, both animals were in New Hampshire. But Dudek says there’s limited medical help for the dogs where they were living, so she brought them to New Orleans to receive treatment at her animal rehab center, Dag’s House, on the West Bank.

” And it may include some swimming. It may include some treadmill. It may include some massage work or it may include some acupuncture,” said Dudek of the treatment.

Just as quickly as people credit Dudek for her work to help the animals, she redirects their attention to the pilot of the plane, Messinger. The Pilots N Paws program uses volunteer pilots who pick up the tab for using their own planes and fuel to transport special needs animals around the country. Many of the animals face euthanasia in shelters. Others have unique medical needs. Regardless, it’s an expensive but rewarding mission for the pilots.

“For me, it’s really a game changer. It sort of feeds the soul,” said Messinger who started his day in Philadelphia then traveled to New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Georgia before arriving in New Orleans. And his stay in NOLA was a brief one. “Tonight we leave here. We go to Lafayette. We spend the night in Lafayette, and tomorrow morning pickup 20 dogs from Lafayette. We then go to the Slidell area, pickup a couple dogs there, continue up the coast, drop off some dogs in Philadelphia, and we end up tomorrow night in Manchester, New Hampshire.”

Eventually Jaxx and Charley will be put up for adoption at Dag’s Place. But it’s the Pilots and Paws program that could really use some help. Volunteers say there are simply too many needy animals and too few pilots to transport them. Pilots can find out more about volunteering by logging on to pilotsnpaws.org.