Local pilot takes flight with Pilots N Paws to give rescue animals a newbeginning
“Pilots love flying, and some have been known to fly from Austin to Dallas just for a hamburger, so to fly a dog from a shelter to a foster family gives meaning and purpose to a flight,” says volunteer pilot LJ Miller.
LJ Miller, a senior manager for Dell computers and his wife Anne Miller, an optometrist with My Eye Site, are life-long animal lovers who reside in Cedar Park. They share their home with two apricot Labradoodles, Elvis and Oscar. Miller is also a pilot with 20 years of experience, who owns a private plane that he keeps at the municipal airport in Georgetown.
PNP provides a user-friendly web communication portal for those that rescue animals and pilots and plane owners who are willing to assist in their transportation, saving them from euthanasia.
Given his love of pets and flying, it was only natural that when he learned about the mission of Pilots N Paws (PNP) he immediately wanted to become involved. PNP is an organization that matches volunteer pilots with assignments of flying canines and other unwanted animals from shelters and rescue groups to new homes.
Miller flew his first flight for PNP in June of this year. On the flight, he transported a six-month old, 50-pound Plott hound dog (called Buddy by the shelter) who had ended up in an animal shelter in southeast Texas.
Although details of Buddy’s early days are not known, it was known that Buddy had languished in a shelter for far too long and was slated for euthanization if he didn’t find an immediate home.
After a flight lasting just over an hour, Miller and Buddy (later renamed Billy) arrived at the municipal airport in Georgetown. Billy’s new foster family waited to greet him and transport him to a temporary home while he waited for a permanent placement.
Tail wagging and smiles were the order of the day, with a mood of giddy anticipation. Billy will remain with his foster family until a space opens for him with the San Antonio SPCA.
The rescue flight went so smoothly for Miller that he and his wife have already scheduled a second flight. Their next mission is picking up a dog at the Sabine Animal Shelter in Anne’s home state of Louisiana and transporting him to a permanent home in Austin.
“Anytime there is a rescue in Texas scheduled for a weekend, I am available,” says Miller.
Pets N Paws was founded in 2008 by former nurse (turned animal rescue volunteer), Debi Boies and pilot Jon Wehrenberg. Wehrenberg agreed to help save a rescued Doberman pinscher from a dog-fighting ring by flying him from Florida to South Carolina. PNP provides a user-friendly web communication portal for those that rescue animals and pilots and plane owners who are willing to assist in their transportation, saving them from euthanasia.
There are currently 2800 pilot volunteers and 12,000 users on the PNP forum across the nation. And any animal that can be saved by a plane ride is a potential PNP rescue. This includes dogs, cats, pigs, reptiles and even a few rabbits.
“There are approximately eight volunteer pilots in the Austin area,” says Founder Debi Boies. “Because our members are passionate about our cause, animals in need will be helped. It takes one person to change a life — let that person be you.”