Pilots Who Usually Rescue Pets, Rescue Pet Food Instead

They wanted to make sure pets are fed too during the coronavirus pandemic. Watch them in action and find out how you can help them continue.

When a small group of volunteer pilots and their supporters got together ten years ago to save shelter animals from being euthanized, their very first mission was to deliver 48,000 pounds of pet food to shelters in Georgia to keep animals from being put down because of a lack of food.

So it's somehow fitting that Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team's latest "rescue" was to fly 43,000 pounds of wet and dry pet food from a New York supplier to Pittsburgh for distribution to shelters and food pantries in western Pennsylvania and northeastern Kentucky where they're short on pet supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

PAART pilot and CEO Jonathan Plesset on the transport.PAART/Facebook

PAART pilots are normally flying to rescue dogs, cats and other animals and transporting them to no-kill shelters and other safe places. They've rescued animals from overcrowded shelters, hoarding situations, even hurricanes.

Previous Story: Volunters Evacuate Shetler Pets From the Path of Hurricane Dorian

PAART is now grounded from flying to rescue pets because of social distancing. So their board of directors thought saving the lives of pets by flying in food was the next best thing.

Filling up the PAART hangar with $43K of pet food.PAART/Facebook

"If shelters are going to euthanize because of a lack of food, you better believe we can do something about it. And that's what we did," PAART co-founder and pilot Jonathan Plesset told KDKA-TV. "We made the purchase. And now we're going to use our distribution channel to get it to shelters to prevent needless euthanization."

A PAART volunter helps carry bags of food delivered to For Good PGH at Hollander's in Braddock, PA.PAART/Facebook

PAART says on their Facebook page that the food came from Lads Pet Supplies in Angola, NY. Once the PAART plane landed at the Allegheny County Airport outside of Pittsburgh, their very first delivery was to the non-profit For Good PGH in Braddock, also just outside of Pittsburgh. Braddock is a low-income community where families are likely struggling to afford food for their human members, let alone their pets.

Another 5,000 pounds of pet food went to three animal shelters in rural areas of western Pennsylvania.PAART/Facebook

Another 5000 pounds of food went to three shelters: Two Ladies Four Paws Rescue, Butler County Humane Society, and Angel Ridge Animal Rescue. All are located in more rural counties just to the north and south of Pittsburgh, where shelters are anticipating the surrender of animals by families who can no longer afford to care for them. Pilots flew a delivery to the McKean County SPCA in Bradford, PA, near the New York line, where volunteers reported they were completely out of food:

(PAART Youttube Channel)

PAART plans to distribute the food over the next couple of weeks, by land and by air.

"We have always been there to help shelters prevent animals from being euthanized. Now we have switched gears to help prevent people from having to give up their beloved pets because they can no longer afford to feed them." PAART Facebook

"We're going to fly every plane and drive every truck with one person," co-founder and pilot Brad Childs told KDKA. "There'll be zero contact with any other human being, We're gonna use a forklift to put it on there, use the forklift to take it off. In and out and we're gone."

PAART pilot and co-founder Brad Childs says they'll keep distributing the food, using social distancing, as long as it lasts.PAART/Facebook

It's been great to see how so many helpers like PAART, when faced with challenges to their usual routines and systems, have come up with new ways to help. Kudos to them for finding a way to continue helping pets and pet families despite the coronavirus!

Making A Difference For Pets In Need During Coronavirus Pandemic

PAART's Brad Childs maneuvers a forklift of dry pet food.

How can you start something good?

If you're inspired by what the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team does, there are lots of ways to get involved.

Click here to donate to the organization. $25.00 gives an animal a second chance on one of their Land Missions. $50.00 gives an animal a second chance on one of their Air Missions. If you're able to be more generous, or if your company or organization wants to get on board you can sponsor an entire rescue mission.

If you live in the PIttsburgh area, PAART is always looking for volunteers, including pilots, and what they call "land pilots" -- people who drive to make rescues and deliveries. They also need people for logistics, administration, fundraising and community outreach.

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