VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Five passengers stepped off of pilot Jeremy Eisenbrandt’s small plane at Porter County Regional Airport last week to begin new lives.
Lives they might have lost if not for that plane ride.
Those five passengers were dogs — four of them only four months old and one only a year old. They were flown from Tennessee via a shelter in Pell City, Ala., that was shutting its doors.
“The dogs would have been euthanized we were told,” said Maureen Petro-Riffel, a volunteer with Giant Paw Prints, a Valparaiso nonprofit foster-based rescue group with a primary focus on larger breeds.
Giant Paw Prints met Eisenbrandt and the dogs at the airport where they were then to be taken to foster care while waiting for new homes.
“It was to save lives,” Petro-Riffel said. “When you saw that plane pull up and those little faces in the plane, that’s priceless.”
Petro-Riffel, who handles out-of-state transfers for Giant Paw Prints, said it’s not the first time rescue dogs have been flown to a new location.
“We have a wonderful network of pilots that we use through Pilots and Paws,” she said. “I have about three or four pilots I consistently use.”
Eisenbrandt, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., said his job as a consulting engineer allows him to fly his plane to various locations in the country. Whenever he flies he checks to see if rescue dogs need to go somewhere.
“If I can bring them along I do it,” he said. “I have a rescue dog and I know what it’s like. And I love dogs. It’s great to see them get a good home.”
Petro-Riffel said they also pulled in dogs from Texas during the floods there in the spring. Three more dogs will be coming from Texas, though they’ll be driven in.
Careful planning goes into the dog transports, Petro-Riffel said. She does background checks on those doing the transporting and utilizes a “huge” national network when it comes to transports.
Petro-Riffel said they pull dogs from all over the country which leads people to ask why not just pull locally. Petro-Riffel said there are local dogs, but Giant Paw Prints generally works with large breeds where in the South in Alabama and Texas a large amount are put down.
“Texas is ungodly,” she said.
The five dogs that were flown here have been vetted, neutered and spayed, Petro-Riffel said. They’ll be micro-chipped and de-wormed.
“They’re such loving dogs,” she said.