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Army Veteran Buys His Own Plane To Fly Shelter Dogs to New Homes
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Retired Army veteran Paul Steklenski started a non-profit organization to fly endangered animals to foster homes that are waiting for them. And he flies the plane himself!
When Paul Steklenski took on a new job after his service in the Army, he found himself passing by an airport on a daily basis, and thinking that might have been a good time to start taking pilot lessons. His uncle was a pilot, and he figured it’d be a neat thing to do, and a way that he may be able to do some good in the world. That was 2013.
He also adopted a rescue dog named Tessa in 2013. Tessa’s rescue opened Steklenski’s eyes up to the difficulties shelters often face with transport and rescue, especially when those who want to foster a pup are far away from the shelter in which the pup needs rescuing from.
Originally planning to use his piloting abilities to work as a pilot with Angel Flights, an organization that provides free transport for people who need medical treatments, he was not able to because he was a new pilot, and he needed experience for that organization.
But he decided that even as a new pilot, he could make a difference in the lives of those who desperately needed help, still–those animals who were near euthanasia procedures. In May of 2015, he started Flying Fur Animal Rescue, which basically does what many small animal rescue groups do. Except, when it comes to transporting pups pulled from animal shelters across state lines, Stklenski flies them to their new foster homes instead of arranges ground transport.
And, Steklenski does so in his own plane. Yep, he put $70,000 into his own plan so that he can take more than one animal quickly and further than in a typical van transport. More, he spends about $1,000 out of pocket to fund the monthly rescue trips. He says that it’s the only reason he flies, actually–that his skills help him utilize the tool–his airplane.
Steklenski has so far helped over 700 dogs. Even though not every foster situation works out, the shelters all agree to protect the pets he transports and see that they get good homes. Steklenski says that he feels a part of each of the dogs’ lives, and remembers every transport vividly.
Steklenski says that flying the animals to better futures is a passion, and he even visits back with some of his previous transports, thrilled to see them in loving homes that they were always meant to be in.
And that, friends, is a good human!