Volunteer Pilots Needed to Fly Dogs Still Affected by Hurricane Maria

The Coalition for Animal Rescue needs pilots willing to help transport hundreds of homeless pets. Coalition for Animal Rescue

The Coalition for Animal Rescue needs volunteer pilots to help transport homeless dogs from Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. John and Tortola, islands hit hard by last year's Hurricane Maria.

The CAR has already transported 4,300 animals, according to Niki Dawson, the organization’s project manager. However, she said there are significant financial and logistical challenges involved in organizing these mass animal-rescue operations.

“We are hoping that animal-loving pilots would consider allowing a dog or two to come along on their flights to the States. With partners all over the country, we can find a rescue almost anywhere. The number of lives saved would dramatically increase, allowing rescue funds to pay for necessary medical costs or spay/neuter services,” Dawson said.

The first set of transports were flown with a rental plane by volunteer pilots, and were funded by donations. Each flight transported 75 dogs and cost $18,000, an unsustainable amount, Dawson said. Amerijet can fly the dogs more economically, but the airline only flies between San Juan and Miami, which makes ground transportation a problem to reach the Coalition’s animal shelter partners in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

Non-profit organizations on the islands regularly fly adoptable dogs to the United States, but larger dogs cost more to relocate. Smaller “hand carries” are cheaper, but there is a limit to how many dogs can be transported at a time. All of the dogs are fully vaccinated, come with health certificates and will be supplied with crates for safety, Dawson said.

Volunteer pilots who are interested in flying rescue missions can contact Niki Dawson at niki@coalitionforanimalrescue.org or at (908) 966-3098.


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