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No Dog Left Behind

Scott SmithMar 14, 2017

PAART's plane and a passengers looking out at the City of Pittsburgh.

Good morning friends.

We have a very special feature today. Say hello to the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team (PAART). At it's core, PAART transports at-risk animals from danger to safety. Their Hashtag says it all, "#NoDogLeftBehind". -- As I read up on them, I was very inspired with how compassionate, intelligent and effective their search and rescue missions are executed.

PAART is networked with shelters, pet adoption services, and smaller rescue groups who inform them of animals that are running out of time and are in dire need. Their missions require a great deal of precision. Many a times the target is rescued mere hours before being euthanized. Bottom line, the animals need move or be killed.

Jonathan Plesset (left) and Brad Childs(right) in Charleston, WV with 17 dogs on the airplane destined for Philadelphia and a new life

PAART was founded by best friends, Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset in 2012. Both of them got their pilot licenses back in 2002, but were not doing much with them at all. In 2006, Brad had his first experience with rescue flying, which involved Monte, a 90 pound Bull Dog, in need of a permanent home. Brad and his flight instructor flew the dog to safety in Philadelphia. Touchdown.

In July of 2009, Brad and Jonathan responded to a post on the Animal Rescue Flights internet forum about a dire situation in Georgia where animal shelters were running low on food. The two gentlemen decided to use their companies, Eyetique and Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel, for a fundraiser. Together, they raised over 48,000 pounds of dog food, which Brad, Jonathan and Brad’s wife, Linda, personally delivered to Georgia area shelters. Brad and Jonathon immediately realized the importance of fundraising.

As a result of this heroic rescue, the City of Pittsburgh decreed by proclamation that this date would then be forever known as the Eyetique and Shadyside Inn Suites “Puppy Eyes Day” in Pittsburgh. How amazing is that!!!

Director of Operations, Lynda Manko, on a Land mission to save 50 plus animals 

In 2012, Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset, along with wives, Linda and Megan respectively saw an opportunity to create a new kind of animal rescue operation. After years of animal rescue experience, they envisioned more efficient ways to rescue animals, which would therefore save more lives. With that, they founded PAART, and a year later received their 501(C)(3) status.

Linda Child is the flight coordinator, and plays a critical role in keeping the operation moving. Megan Plesset manages community relations and volunteer outreach. Both of them are a vital part of PAART.

Video of PAART's story and background (Source: PAART) 

From there, PAART started picking up animals from local shelters and taking them to their new homes. Shortly after they were transporting 10 to 15 animals at a time with several airplanes. In order to optimize rescue efforts they'd pack the empty planes with food and supplies and deliver them to these same shelters that were desperate for help. Like I said, PAART is very precise when they execute rescues.

Through the use of social media, PAART began getting requests from all over the country to transport rescued animals. They have flown thousands of animals to safe havens since their inception. They have mostly focused on dogs, but are not limited to them. If there's an animal's life to be saved, PAART will save it. 

Brad and Jonathan have a single-engine Piper Saratoga TC that can fly up to 200 mph, and can travel an average of 250 to 300 miles each way. But again, there are many piolts and planes participating in this organization.

In 2014 they decided to expand their organization to ground missions as well. Generating the funding for a large rescue van proved to be more difficult than expected.

Volunteer, Chris Klasic, on a mission with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquariam to release 30 rehabilitated sea turtles into the Atlantic. If anyway makes their way to Pittsburgh, -- The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG is a Must See. The Zoo and Aquarium strives to foster positive, lifelong connections between animals and people. Whether through our exhibits, educational programs, or our many conservation projects, our goal is to make certain the Earth remains a suitable home for all life by our discovery of the interconnectedness of the world.

Thanks to Social Media, this little rescue operation with a big heart was getting national attention. By that time, the celebrity, Rachael Ray, took notice of this heartfelt rescue organization. In short order, the financial challenge was gone as she donated $25,000 to the PAART in March of 2015.

The PAART Landplane, our name for the rescue vehicle we use for ground transprt.

That donation came right on time. The winters in the Northeast can be very volatile causing flying missions to be more difficult. PAART immediately bought a large rescue opened up a new division called, the PAART Land Team. The new 70 animal rescue van, nickname the "Landplane" allowed the crew to transport hundreds of animals per month on the ground and not just rely on planes.

Now that PAART provides Air and Ground transport options, they have greater flexibility in deploying the appropriate strategy for any given rescue. If PAART was not yet impressive enough, they can also now deploy drones to fly over areas associated with suspicious activities.

7 addable puppies loaded up in the back of the plane incredibly excited to make their rescue flight.

PAART also holds an annual 'Dog Days of Summer' fundraiser every August. Last year's event had 600 people and raised a little over $100k. Currently, the tream is raising money for a bigger plane that will allow them to go cross-country. They need to reach their goal of $500k in order to do so. If last year's event, as well as their monumental growth, is any indication to go by, then they will likely succeed with flying colors.

Santana was the 5000th animal rescued on March 6th, 2017. Watch video above about Santana's amaing story. 

Jonathan Plesset (left) and Brad Childs (right) after delivering animals that were moments away from being euthanized to a private shelter in Latrobe, PA.

I have been writing about pets and aniamls for the past 6 years. When I originally saw PAART come across my networks, I was very intrigued. When I began to read up on them, I then became extremely impressed. This organization is firing on all cylinders with respect to animal rescue. It's heartfelt story is producing real results and saving lives. PAART has given, and will continue to give, thousands of animals another chance at having a good life. PAART has a big future ahead of them, which is great news for animals all over the country. The world is a better place with this organizaiton in it. 

I woud like to thank Jonathan Plesset for accomaddating me in putting this feature story togehter. 


Synoposis of facts about PAART --

Founded in 2012 as a 501(c)(3) by Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset.

50 volunteers consisting of pilots, drivers, and office personal

We rescue around 150 - 200 animals per month by land and air

PAART will rescued its 5000th animal on March 6th, 2017 

PAART is expanding to include disaster response with the purchase of a 24 foot rescue trailer which will allow our FEMA trained team to deploy to areas affected by natural disasters and help get animals out.

Our team just competed a three week long mission with Humane Society International to assist them in transporting 200 animals from Wenju, South Korea who were victims of a Korean dog meat farm.

This fall we hired our first full-time employee, Lynda Manko, as our Director of Operations. Lynda was a former volunteer who has logged tens of thousands of miles on the road doing rescues for PAART.

PAART is 100% funded by private donations. Our services are free of charge to participating shelters.