News: Guest Posts
A pilot, a plane and a mission
“I used to be deadly afraid of airplanes,” Ted DuPuis told us. That’s not all that surprising. Plenty of folks, including the person at the keyboard right now, harbor a healthy dread of flight. But DuPuis’s response to that fear probably sets him apart from most of us: He became a pilot.
On September 8, 2007, the 25-year-old Williamsport, Penn., resident took his first lesson and he has been learning to fly or flying pretty much nonstop since then. “I’ve been on an accelerated track,” he says with understatement.
Dovetailing with his new passion for the friendly skies has been an interest in using his expanding skill-set to help others. “I got the desire to do charitable flights fairly early on,” he says. In particular, he was intrigued by Angel Flight, an organization that arranges free air transportation for charitable and medical purposes. But as a young frequent flyer he hasn’t yet met all the requirements for Angel Flight pilots. In aiming toward that goal, he volunteered to assist with animal transport, in particular Animal Rescue Flights (ARF), which promotes, plans and performs the transportation of animals from overcrowded shelters to other parts of the country where qualified families are waiting to adopt them. (Pilots N Paws also facilitates volunteer air transports, which we wrote about in Oct. 2009.)
It’s a simple truth that a homeless dog in the South or the Midwest may have a better chance of finding a good adoptive home in the Northeast or cities in the West. For these dogs in overcrowded, under-funded shelters, a grassroots network of volunteer transportation can mean the difference between life and death.
DuPuis brought the same ambition to his new calling that he’d brought to mastering his fear of flying. But once he was initiated into the reality of pet overpopulation, crowded shelters and high rates of euthanasia, he wanted to do more.
“I wanted to start something that would address large-scale transport reliably,” DuPuis says. So he launched Cloud Nine Rescue Flights with one pilot (himself) and the 1969 Piper Aztec twin-engine he bought in January 2009. His designated niche? Transporting more animals, farther with each flight and with greater reliability.
It’s a slightly different approach than ARF and Pilots N Paws. In those groups, rescues and pilots connect via a website; pilots donate their time and the cost of a flight (more on that in a second); and they often transport only a few animals per flight. In some cases, several pilots are needed to fly linked legs to cover greater distance.
DuPuis’s 700-mile range means he can fly farther without stopping than many of the aircraft volunteered for other missions, which is less strenuous for the furry passengers. Also, it cuts down on the number of pilots needed for each mission, which improves the odds of success.
He also claims a weather advantage. When thunderstorms or snow keep many small planes in their hangars, DuPuis’s plane—equipped with weather radar and de-icing equipment—can fly. Since he began transporting animals, he says he only had to postpone two out of 20 missions, and then only for 24 hours.
Because he can easily fit 15 to 20 crated animals (he’s taken as many as 23), DuPuis seeks out bigger missions. “It has to be something that makes the best use of the plane,” he says. He smaller transports to ARF and Pilots N Paws.
Another thing makes the fledgling nonprofit different than its predecessors, DuPuis aims to underwrite the estimated $2,000 per transport with individual donations, sponsorships and grants. In December 2009, the ASPCA granted the organization enough to fund at least two missions. And so far he’s been able to cover about 50 percent of his costs.
DuPuis hopes to expand with more planes some day. His short-term goal is one transport per weekend. His long-term goal is one transport a day.
Most Saturday mornings will find DuPuis at an airport in the Southeast bound for destinations up north. He loads the animals into crates on his plane. (He has his own crates, but can always use more.) “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” he says. On a window of his airplane is a “Dog Is My Co-Pilot” bumper sticker, and on a recent crowded flight, dog really was his co-pilot.
Even with the help of “tremendous” volunteers, Cloud 9 is like a second full-time job. When he comes home from his day job as an engineer for the company that made the engines in his airplane, DuPuis works on Cloud 9 business until he goes to bed. Actual transports take at least one of his weekend days. “Cloud Nine absorbs all my free time but it is the most rewarding thing I do,” DuPuis says.
Learn about Cloud Nine Rescue Flights online, where you can also make tax-deductible donation via Paypal or contact Ted DuPuis or make a donation the old fashioned way at Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, 259 Irion Dr., Montoursville, PA 17754; 812-243-2585.
News: Guest Posts
Sometimes, one dog just tugs at your heart
Please watch the video and share your feelings about Stanley, rescue and dogs in your life who have received second chances. For updates on Stanley's progress, please go to Respect-A-Bull and his Facebook page.
News: Guest Posts
Faulty wiring leads to near-tragedy
Princess' elderly owner had asked a neighbor to take her for a walk in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Both were surprised when the little senior mix started crying and shaking while on the sidewalk. Salt and water had conducted electricity to Princess' paws due to faulty wiring at a nearby apartment building. Fortunately, she survived and her veterinarian said she appears to be physically fine. All the more reason to make sure you clear your driveway and sidewalk of ice. If a neighbor is out of town or cannot shovel their property, offer to help so that everyone can be safe, including our pups.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
California's unwanted Chihuahuas move east
Blame it on movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Legally Blonde, popular celebrities like Paris Hilton, commercials for Taco Bell, or on the economy, which has been increasing homeless pets across the board.
Whatever the reason, California is seeing an overwhelming number of Chihuahuas filling their shelters.
In the past, the majority of unwanted dogs tended to be Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes. Now many shelters in the Golden State are finding themselves filled with Chihuahuas, some reporting 30 percent or more. In the last year, Los Angeles shelters alone have taken in 4,700 Chihuahuas.
Northeast shelters, on the other hand, continue to be dominated by larger dogs, mostly Pit Bulls in my area. Small dogs are usually adopted quickly.
Now actress Katherine Heigl, Kinder4Rescue, Los Angeles Animal Services, American Airlines and Virgin America are teaming up to help pups otherwise slated for euthanasia to relocate to states where the Chihuahua ratio is in their favor.
Through Project Flying Chihuahua, 25 dogs have already arrived at the Humane Society for Greater Nashua in New Hampshire, funded by Katherine Heigl’s animal welfare foundation and American Airlines. These pups already have homes lined up with a waiting list of 100 people. Forty three more Chihuahuas will leave this coming week, just in time for the holidays.
Virgin America is also helping out the cause and will be flying a group of Chihuahuas from San Francisco to the ASPCA in New York City. The airline is also planning a week of half-price trips for passengers willing to bring an animal to the Big Apple.
Other Chihuahuas are being driven to closer states, such as Washington, Oregon and Arizona.
Certainly some people are forced to give up their pets due to unforeseen circumstances, but the root cause of this surplus comes down to irresponsible people. Many celebrities, like Katherine Heigl, do a lot to support animal welfare organizations, which is no doubt admirable. But imagine if they focused their efforts on education.
The AKC and the ASPCA do a lot in this area, but celebrities have a unique influence and a broader audience. If more famous people spread the word about responsible ownership, maybe we could get to the root of the problem and prevent homeless pets for good.
Dog's Life: Humane
Operation Roger: Truckers hauling rescue dogs home
When Marty discovered Jackson (bottom, left), shunned by a pack of wild dogs in a Louisiana swamp, he rescued the Beagle-mix, assuming he was another Hurricane Katrina victim. After some time, Marty became ill and could no longer care for his dog. Eventually, poor Jackson ended up in a shelter—homeless again. When a rescue organization in Lakeside, Calif., offered to take Jackson it seemed a mixed blessing. After all, the rescue was nearly 2,000 miles away near San Diego, which was besieged by wildfires.
A trucker named Nancy learned about Jackson through a volunteer transport organization called Operation Roger. In late December, she loaded the dog into her rig in LaPlace, La., for a long drive west. During much of the trip, Jackson sat on Nancy’s armrest with his head on her shoulder and watched the scenery pass by. He was not alone. For many shelter and rescue animals, transportation provided by volunteers means the difference between life and death.
When Bark editor Claudia Kawczynska adopted Kit and Holly from a rescue in Kentucky last year, she was initiated into the formal and informal network of individuals and organizations with planes, trucks and automobiles that get dogs-in-need to places where their future is brighter.
Inspired and intrigued by this grassroots cooperative effort, TheBark.com has been talking to the people who make these daily efforts a reality. Earlier this year, we met the women behind Colorado Animal Rescue Express (C.A.R.E.), a van transport group out of Denver; Dawn Painter, an individual animal welfare advocate who uses email to spread the word for animals in need; and Pilots ‘N Paws, a collection of general aviation pilots who volunteer planes for speedy transfers.
In this our final installment on the underdog railway, we talk to Sue Wiese, founder of Operation Roger, a non-profit organization comprised of regional and long-haul truckers who volunteer their time to transport needy pets at the same time they do their job delivering freight around the country. Wiese (pronounced We-cee) is a trucker and animal lover who knows how to get the most out of her telephone headset. She talked to us by phone from her home in the “tiny town” of Joshua, Tex., south of Fort Worth, where she lives with two dogs—Buddy, an American Bulldog, and a Dachshund named Huck, short for Huckleberry.
The Bark: How did Operation Roger get started?
I had heard about PetFinder.com, so when I was able to stop, I went online. I found out that the transport of pets was an everyday thing, not just disaster-related. I called a friend of mine, and then my daughters and … they immediately could see the big picture.
They talked me into going on a truck [call-in] show on XM radio. My hands were shaking; I was scared to talk on live radio. So I typed out what I needed to say. When the guy finally got to me he said, ‘What can I do for Classy Lady?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’d like to know if there are any drivers interested in an operation to move needy pets across the country.’
There was absolute silence. You don’t have silence on radio. From the left temple to the right temple was this thought: “Oh no, I’ve laid an egg now.” He and his wife finally got over the shock. The talk was about 15 minutes long, and I had about 12 calls to return by the time we ended.
Why were they so surprised?
Of the 12 calls, how many were truckers interested in driving?
Once you had drivers who were willing, how did you connect with dogs and cats needing transportation?
Are drivers taking legs and connecting with other drivers or do they frequently drive from point A to the destination?
Are those people who keep the animals overnight if necessary during a transfer or shuttle dogs from one truck transport to another when a leg isn’t covered?
That’s a terrible reason to need a layover home, isn’t it?
Are you transferring the dogs from a rescue or shelter to another rescue or shelter?
How many drivers do you have right now?
You just celebrated your fourth anniversary in September, how many animals have you transported in this time?
You were a trucker? Are you retired?
Tell me about the operation’s namesake, Roger?
What’s it like to have a dog companion in your truck?
Now if we can just convince more of the trucking companies, it would be great.
Are there companies that prohibit dogs on board?
So trucking companies are not seeing the advantages of dogs onboard?
What do shippers have to supply?
That’s got to be so great on a long haul.
News: Guest Posts
Tireless advocate dies soon after signing
Mark Markarian’s posted a happy story with a sad ending on his blog, Animals & Politics, today. Last week, soon after Wisconsin became the 10th state to adopt legislation cracking down on puppy mills (“requiring licensing, inspection and basic standards of humane care at large-scale dog breeding operations”), one of the prime movers behind the law died. A tireless voice for animal rights and puppy mill crusader, Joyce Kitsemble, attended the signing ceremony at the capitol and fell ill. She was taken to the hospital where she died. As Markarian points out, the law is a tribute to Kitsemble’s inspiring effort, and hopefully will bring some consolation to the many loved ones and admirers she leaves behind.
News: Guest Posts
One couple pleads guilty, others face charges
The Seattle Times reported that the couple arrested for running a puppy mill in January, where 160 dogs were found in deplorable conditions in Gold Bar, Wash., pled guilty on Nov. 20 to six counts each of first-degree animal cruelty. (Bark covered this bust with a story by Jan Rodak in the May/Jun 2009 issue.) The prosecution is seeking a 12-month sentence for each defendant.
A second couple faces multiple felony animal-cruelty charges in Skagit County, Wash., where they were arrested and hundreds more dogs were seized in a related puppy mill. But so far no charges have been filed Renee Roske, the kennel owner for whom the Gold Bar defendants claimed to be working. (The Times reports that the Skagit County defendants are Roske's parents.) An investigation of Roske is reportedly ongoing—and we can only hope she will be held accountable for masterminding all this cruelty.
News: Guest Posts
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated abuse case.
When my cat went missing for 12 hours a couple weeks ago, I thought I had imagined every possible worse-case scenario. But what happened to Daisy the Beagle never would’ve occurred to me. She had been missing from her upstate New York home for two weeks when a hunter located her on his property, shoved inside a plastic bag and duct taped so only her nostrils were exposed. She was in really bad shape, but miraculously was reunited with her family and is on the road to recovery. As I researched Daisy’s story, I found five more cases of animals being duct taped and thrown away in garbage bins. Incredibly, they all survived, too, but in every instance except one, the perpetrator has yet to be caught. The New York State Humane Society is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the capture of Daisy’s abuser and the Humane Society of the United States pledged $2,500 to assist the family with her medical costs. If you’d like to help find who did this to Daisy or defray some of her vet care, donations may be sent to the New York State Humane Society, PO Box 3068, Kingston, N.Y. 12402 or call (845) 336-4514.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Tips from American Humane
Every year, millions of people travel with their dogs over the holidays. And every year, many of those people vow not to do it again next year. Long car rides and airplane rides can be extremely stressful for our dogs and for us as well.
Considering safety issues such as crates for car travel and whether a pet is healthy enough (physically and emotionally) to travel by air is important. If the dog is too big to fly in the cabin, going by car or briefly boarding your dog may have enough advantages to outweigh the disadvantages. It is essential to teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate before driving over the river and through the woods for hours with your dog in that crate.
Pre-trip planning such as making advance reservations at pet friendly hotels, bringing along copies of medical records in case you need to see a veterinarian while you are away, and ordering up-to-date ID tags with the contact information of your destination are all ways to make your trip smoother.
American Humane offers a more thorough list of holiday travel tips for pets. Bon voyage!
News: Guest Posts
Why and how to help.
I often think that having a dog would be a great comfort to me if I was forced to live on the street. So when I see a pup curled up next to someone who appears to be homeless, I have mixed feelings. I think it must be a benefit for the person but I worry about them both. I worry that the dog, just like the person, may not be getting enough food, water or medical attention. And I know that having a dog can be a liability on the street, since most shelters and other services have no place for them.
This week is a perfect time to do something to help the homeless and their pets. Each year, one week before Thanksgiving (Nov. 15-21), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. During this week, a number of schools, communities and cities take part in a nationwide effort to bring greater awareness to the problems of hunger and homelessness. This year, Feeding Pets of the Homeless is joining their efforts to draw attention to the pets of the homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are an estimated 3.5 million homeless persons in the United States, and the number is increasing. NCH has also estimated that up to 10 percent of homeless people have at least one pet. For those with pets, finding pet food, shelter and other assistance is more difficult.
Feeding Pets of the Homeless has more than 200 volunteer/collection sites in a number of cities across the country. Donations of pet food and pet supplies are needed. The organization has more than 100 distributing organizations in place that have agreed to offer the pet food to the homeless and needy. They include local food banks, food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
In addition, help for many homeless with pets comes from free clinics that provide a basic check up, vaccines, medicines, flea and tick treatments, spay or neuter, along with pet food and other pet products. These clinics depend on grants to licensed veterinarians from Feeding Pets of the Homeless and the generosity of many of the veterinarian’s distributors who donate products. Grants are made possible from donations from the public to Feeding Pets of the Homeless.
Find a list of pet food collection sites in your community. If there isn’t a collection site near you, contact Feeding Pets of the Homeless to learn how to start one.
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