Kimber and Rocky, who were rescued after they were beaten, abused and emaciated, met for the first time on the tarmac at Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport in North Carolina.
The dogs were making their way to a plane with Flying Fur Animal Rescue, a nonprofit that provides flight transport for abused animals to rescue groups.
Although it was the 485th flight for pilot Paul Steklenski, the founder of the organization, it might have been the most emotional.
“It was difficult. Both were completely emaciated. They could barely walk,” Steklenkski told The Dodo. “That was hard. Just getting to the airplane, we had to stop several times as we were walking to let them do their thing to get to the airplane. All they cared about was bed and that nobody was abusing them anymore.”
On the plane, Kimber gained confidence and started nuzzling Steklenski’s lap. He helped her onto the co-pilot’s seat, where she curled up in a blanket and slept for the 2 1/2-hour plane ride.
Rocky slept sprawled out in the back of the plane.
“Usually my ‘pawsengers’ are upbeat, curious, excited, nervous, not quite sure what is happening, but willing to go along for the ride,” Steklenski wrote on Facebook. “For these two, it was a world entirely different; I could sense the pain, the agony, the abuse, the struggle to find the energy to simply stand, to walk, to simply keep on living. And yet, despite what had been done to them, they went along willingly, with the faith that whatever lay ahead could only be better than where they had been.”
The pair were taken to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC in Morristown, New Jersey, where they will head to foster homes.