Pilots N Paws Flies to the Rescue for Animals in Need
When he’s not working as a 767 captain for FedEx, Jeff Kilmer enjoys flying his Beechcraft Bonanza, an aircraft he shares with three other current and retired FedEx crew members and an Air Force pilot.
Kilmer likes to get the Bonanza in the air whenever he can, but he prefers it to be for something other than a $100 hamburger.
“A $100 hamburger is something you get when you take a short flight, eat at an airport restaurant and return home,” Kilmer said. “The cost in fuel alone can easily exceed $100.”
One day while working at FedEx, he heard about Pilots N Paws, a non-profit organization that offers those who rescue, shelter or foster animals an opportunity to connect with volunteer pilots like Kilmer who are willing to assist with the transportation of those animals.
“I was in the crew room in Memphis one time, and people were talking about Pilots N Paws,” Kilmer said. “I looked it up, found the bulletin board and said ‘Hey, I like to fly my airplane, and I like dogs, I like cats and animals. This is a chance to have fun in the airplane and do some good with it.”
Kilmer and his wife have a rescue dog of their own, a Weimaraner named Sara. His passion for animals and his love of aviation inspired him to get involved in rescue flights for Pilots N Paws.
Between four and six million animals are euthanized each year, according to Pilots N Paws executive director Kate Quinn. Through Pilots N Paws, more than 5,000 volunteer pilots like Kilmer have flown more than 100,000 rescue animals to new homes and new lives since the organization began in 2008.
“Certain areas of the country have a higher supply of adoptable animals, while other regions have a higher number of people looking to adopt,” Quinn said. “Pilots N Paws seeks to bridge that gap.”
Kilmer has flown many missions for Pilots N Paws over the years. He recently helped transport Arya, a Pitt Bull/Terrier mix, from Memphis, Tenn. to a foster home in Ann Arbor, Mich. Through a rescue organization called Paws New England, Arya will be taught how to live in a home and interact with other dogs before being placed up for adoption to a forever home.
Check out the video to watch Arya’s journey with Pilots N Paws and to find out how you can get involved.