Elite Daily

Rescue Pilots Band Together To Save Animals From Shelters

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Wings of Rescue is, quite literally, one of the most uplifting nonprofit organizations around.

Why? Because its volunteers fly!

Well, it's more than just that.

This group truly offers a groundbreaking method to tackling animal rescue.

Wings of Rescue owns one flagship plane that routinely flies around to pick up animals and bring them to safety. The rest of the planes are donated and flown by volunteer pilots.

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The organization currently has 30 volunteer pilots with smaller private planes scattered across the US. Ten other core dedicated volunteers are available at any given moment to help coordinate rescues and raise funds.

It's become a well-known fact regions in the United States have a crisis of pet overpopulation and a lack of resources to care for these animals. This is due to a lack of spay and neutering, excessive commercial breeding and sheer irresponsibility and ignorance in the communities.

Ric Browde, head of logistics at Wings of Rescue, told Elite Daily,

You can't blame the shelters for being high kill. It's the communities that they serve, the society there killed the pets.

Thankfully, there are still some incredible people out there like Browde who are part of organizations that dedicate themselves to rescuing these animals.

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Wings of Rescue is based out of California, and its primary focus is transporting dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in California, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee to no-kill shelters throughout the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, Utah and Santa Fe.

Whenever there is a natural disaster or crisis in a community where animals are on the loose and in danger, Wings of Rescue will also fly in and save them on a moment's notice.

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Most recently, during the 2016 catastrophic Louisiana floods, Wings of Rescue sent five planes and brought approximately 750 animals to safety. This act of heroism is on the same level as Superman.

Every year the organization does a “Holiday Air Lift,” which consists of 20 planes rescuing approximately 1,000 animals in one morning.

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This February, Elite Daily had a chance to capture an up-close and personal Wings of Rescue mission.

During this mission, the nonprofit saved 49 dogs facing death from an overcrowded shelter on the Mexican border in El Centro, California.

The dogs were picked up and brought to a high adoption rate shelter in Boise, Idaho, all in one day — not to mention, the majority of those dogs were adopted by the end of the week.

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We started off at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles at 7 am.

From there, we flew to El Centro, picked up the pets, flew to Boise, dropped off the pets and arrived back to Van Nuys around 8 pm.

We were wiped out physically, but soaring emotionally.

It's hard not to appreciate the organization's dedication.

Yehuda Netanel, the co-founder and a pilot for Wings of Rescue is a no-nonsense man with a strong work ethic who loves animals — and loves to fly.

He is a former Israeli military paratrooper and still works full-time in real estate.

When  asked about his motivation, Netanel said,

One look at the pet's face and the wiggling tails gives you all the energy you need to overcome all the adversities, and that's what wakes me up early in the morning and puts me in bed late at night.
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There are many cases where animals suffer and good people working tirelessly to alleviate the issue — like the time we traveled to Vidalia, Georgia, to follow the rescue a dog from a hauntingly overcrowded kill shelter all the way up to adoption in Brooklyn, New York.

I felt similar emotions related to heartbreak and redemption during both experiences.

Wings of Rescue performed 130 rescue flights in 2016, bringing approximately 10,000 pets (mostly dogs but also over 1,500 cats and 70 rabbits) to safety. In 2017, it set a goal higher to fly 12,000.

To date, the organization has given over 25,000 animals a second chance at having a future.

To support Wings of Rescue and help them save more animals, visit its website.