A lot of time and a lot of effort goes into saving just some of the estimated 4 million dogs and cats that are euthanized in the U.S. every year. A lot of committed souls are at work, each contributing his or her talents and time to the crusade, often for the humble reward of knowing that a small life has been given another chance. One of those people is Jeff Bennett, who goes beyond the normal call of duty.
For the past three and half years, Bennett, a 53-year-old business owner and pilot hailing from the Florida Keys, has volunteered his time and his plane to transport rescued animals to places where they can receive care. He even removed the back seats from his four-seat Cirrus SR22 airplane in order to transport more animals.
Last month Bennett celebrated a proud milestone when he flew his 1,000th animal to freedom.
Of course, most of the rescued animals have been dogs and cats, but Bennet does not limit his charges to two species. Bennett has transported rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, iguanas, chickens, monitor lizards, tortoises, snakes, falcons, and even hawks.
"I never thought I’d be moving this many animals," Bennett told TODAY.com. "I just really enjoy it, and I get to meet some of the best people out there."
Bennett is affiliated with Pilots N Paws, a South Carolina based nonprofit dedicated to rescuing "death-row" dogs, cats, and other animals by connecting animal rescue organizations with pilots and plane owners.
Since its founding in 2008, Pilots N Paws has helped coordinate thousands of animal transports around the country. Their mission, to ensure that as long as there are good Samaritans like Bennett in the world, needy animals will continue to be rescued.
Image: Courtesy of Jeff Bennett