In 2015 Laura and I completed a fundraising event for ABTCR (American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue) and this event got me thinking about how I could do more. I wanted to combine my love of aviation, dog rescue, and getting young people involved in flying.
Pursuing my dream of becoming a pilot would allow me to help transport rescue dogs. After getting my private pilots certificate I got involved with a program called Young Eagles which offers youth between 8 and 17 a free first airplane ride help introduce and inspire kids to the world of aviation. I became a young Eagles pilot because I am passionate about sharing my love of flying . After obtaining my instrument rating, I realized that I could fulfill a niche by combining my dog rescue work with introducing young people to aviation.
I am working toward obtaining my commercial and CFI certificates and then we will work with shelters, rescue groups, and flight training schools to allow young people who might not otherwise be able to afford flight training, or be exposed to the possibilities aviation offers, to trade volunteer hours with animal shelters for flight training hours.
Originally, I started using Facebook to document my progression through training since family, friends, and members of ABTCR were always inquiring about how my training was going. In August of 2016, I created a website to better organize and present my ideas with an eye to the future creation of a charity to facilitate the above goals. That website eventually evolved into HoundPilot at www.HoundPilot.com and I began blogging about my training and ideas for the future. The first entry can be found at (https://houndpilot.com/2016/08/31/blog-post-title/).
We have filed the LLC documents and organization bylaw. It’s a process so you file one set of documents and wait, then file the next step; but things are moving along. In the meantime we are researching different aspects of what we hope to do and gaining valuable knowledge and insight.
I have consulted with AOPA Pilot Services and another attorney about the creation of the charity and also with a private consulting firm. I hope to have the charity status complete by the fall of 2018 or sooner. My time is split between extensive travel for work, flight training, and my work with ABTCR so I am progressing slowly but methodically so that I will be well organized. Obtaining scholarship funding to combine with my personal funding will greatly assist me in realizing my goals for this endeavor so I have applied for a scholarship and continue to progress through my flight training.
I am currently researching making Hound Pilot a 503c charity so that any donations made to Hound Pilot may be tax deductible within the appropriate IRS laws. I also must ensure that everything I do complies with the FAA FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations).
My intent with taking donations, as is the same with many other animal welfare groups: to expand my services and help offset the associated expenses prior to getting the airplane in the air with a rescue dog on board.
The costs outside of flying include communication expenses such as website hosting fees, office supplies, flyers and banners to educate people to what Hound Pilot does, supplies for flights, maintaining record keeping and filings required by the IRS, and a small welcome box for each dog when flown to a adoptive home. These expenses are vital to the mission and while individually are small, they quickly add up. There is a lot of groundwork and logistics needed to make each flight happen.
If you follow my blog you know that from March 2016 to October of 2017 I attended flight training every day off from my full time job. I paid out of pocket for all my training amounting to $28k for my Pilot Certificate and Instrument Rating. I am also on track to spend $12,000 for the year in aircraft expenses (rental time, fuel, fees) that the FAA does not allow to be paid to a pilot performing charity rescue work. These are my part, my donation, to the work.
I am taking a few months to work almost exclusively on organizing the charity. In 2018 I will need to return to flight training for the next step, my FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate. This continued training is part of my contribution to the cause as well as the aircraft rental costs and fees for the rescue flights.
What’s wrong with driving rescue dogs to new homes? Why shouldn’t I just adopt a dog from my local shelter? Why is flying hounds sometimes the best way to get a dog to a new home? These are all good questions that may come into your head when you see my page and blog. Let me try to explain……..
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 3.2 million dogs are taken to shelters every year. Of those animals, more than 670,000 are euthanized. Some are put down due to ill health or lack of “adoptability”, but many shelters, especially in impoverished areas, have limited funds and can only save so many animals. The more time many of these dogs are in shelters, the less adoptable they become. The dogs can shut down, they can’t be the pack animals they were meant to be, and illnesses can blossom or fester untreated. Animal rescue shelters and the people who work there are amazing, but it all goes back to money and a lack of resources. The worse the condition of the dog, the less likely it is to leave the shelter adopted.
This is where animal rescue groups such as American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue (ABTCR) step in to fill the gap, hundreds if not thousands of times a year. Volunteers scour shelters for at-risk dogs and then pull these animals from the shelters, often hours before they are killed. These dogs are then taken to volunteer foster homes where they are vetted, loved and taught to be family companions. Foster families learn the traits of each dog and can let each new adopter know the ins and outs of the pup – if they like cats, children, long walks or just chilling on the couch. The dogs are spayed/neutered and delivered as healthy as possible to their furever families.
Here is where flying hounds comes into play. Many times, a dog can be pulled from a shelter, but the foster home is many hours away and there aren’t enough volunteers to form a chain by car to get the dog to its temporary home. I am called and with short notice, can arrange to move a dog from shelter to foster home hundreds of miles away within a few hours by airplane. A discarded hunting dog found wandering the woods of North Carolina can be in warm bed in Maryland within a day. Dogs are moved by professional and volunteer transporters every day across America, but with my skills as a pilot, I can do my part by helping this rescue chain in the best way I can.