Canines may be land-dwelling animals, but that hasn’t stopped a group of devoted pilots from strapping on their seatbelts and taking to the skies! Author and pet-parent Patrick Regan was inspired to write his nonfiction volume, My Dog is My Co-Pilot, after a friend who volunteered his flight services told him about the organization’s mission.
Pilots N Paws is dedicated to transporting animals from the deplorable conditions in some of America’s deadliest animal shelters and bringing them to happy, healthy homes. Founded in 2008 by animal rescue volunteer Debi Boise and her pilot-friend Jon Wehrehnberg, Pilots N Paws has rescued hundreds of animals to date, and they’re not stopping anytime soon!
Thanks to Patrick, PNPs star is about to get even brighter. We caught up with the author while his feet were on the ground to talk flying, pet-parenting, and classic movies.
WD: How did you first learn about Pilots N Paws?
PR: I met a local pilot named Sam Taylor, who had flown several rescue flights for Pilots N Paws. As soon as I heard their story, I knew this needed to be a book. Sam connected me to one of the founders, Debi Boise, a longtime animal rescue volunteer. She wanted to adopt an abused animal that she had learned about from friends in the rescue community, but the dog lived in South Carolina. Debi’s friend Jon, who was a pilot and owned his own small plane, volunteered to pick up the dog and bring him home to Debi.
WD: Wow! That’s a very generous offer!
PR: It was! But Jon said that pilots are always looking for a reason to fly, and it’s true – otherwise, Pilots and Paws couldn’t be as successful as it is.
WD: What happened after Jon brought the dog home to Debi?
PR: They started talking about the desperate need for animal transport; no one was doing anything about it, so they made it their mission.
WD: Have you flown on any rescue flights?
PR: I started flying along with Sam on rescue flights around the time I started writing the book. It’s a thrilling experience.
WD: Did a special animal inspire you to write this book?
PR: Shortly before I found out about Pilots and Paws, my family had lost our beautiful 3 year-old mixed breed dog, Sophie. We’d rescued her from the streets of Kansas City, MO. She contracted a very rare fungal infection that eventually spread to her nervous system. Sophie was definitely on my mind when I began writing.
WD: Have you adopted any animals since you lost Pearl?
PR: During the course of writing the book, my family rescued out 50-pound mixed breed, Pearl, from the Greater Kansas City Humane Society.
WD: Is Pearl your co-pilot?
PR: I wish! Unfortunately, she gets motion sickness, so she’s never flown along on a rescue flight – but Pearl is my girl; she’s my co-pilot for life!
WD: If Pearl was a character from the movie Airplane, who would she be?
PR: She’s very funny, and intelligent; she’d be the smart stewardess, Elaine, who helps land the plane.
If you want to help an abused animal find new horizons, visit www.pilotsnpaws.org to find out more about how you can donate your time and resources to the Pilots N Paws cause. You can event request that they rescue an animal for you! To learn more about Peter and his new book, My Dog is My Co-pilot, visit www.patrickreganbooks.com.