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Mon, Jun 18, 2012

Florida Keys Pilot Uses Plane For Animal Rescue

Has Provided Flights For 1,000 Animals In Need Of Care

We hear a lot about pilots who volunteer their time providing transportation for critically ill people, helping them get to doctors for treatments that they might not otherwise be able to see. It's a noble, often lifesaving effort.

But sometimes animals need the same kind of help, and for the last three and a half years, Florida Keys pilot Jeff Bennett has been using his personal airplane to transport animals that might otherwise die to places where they can receive critical care and find good homes.

Today.com reports that Bennett recently made his 1,000th animal rescue. He is affiliated with a South Carolina-based organization called Pilots N Paws, which connects shelters and animal rescue organizations with pilots and aircraft owners. Since its founding in 2008, the organization has enlisted the help of 2,700 pilots nationwide who give their time and spend their own money to transport animals in need.

Bennett has personally transported dogs and cats, of course, but he has also had passengers as exotic as a Burmese Python and a pot-bellied pig named Moo. From reptiles to rodents to birds of prey, Bennet has had it all in his Cirrus SR22 airplane. To maximize the number of animals he can transport on any given flight, he had the back seat removed to make additional room for his charges.

Bennett's full time job is as a SCUBA and snorkel equipment distributor. But his affiliation with Pilots N Paws allows him to use his airplane for a worthy cause. He's taken a photograph of every animal he's transported ... for himself and for the purpose of justifying his $16,000 annual write-off for fuel to the IRS.

To reach the 1,000 animal milestone, Bennett transported 23 dogs and puppies in the back of his Cirrus last Friday, which put him three animals over the mark. He's the author of "Dog is My Co-Pilot", in which he tells the stories of many of the animals he's flown to a new life.

FMI: www.pilotsnpaws.org

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