Paul Steklenski, a network engineer and Army veteran from Pennsylvania, trained to fly and purchased his own jet in order to save hundreds of animals headed for slaughter in high-kill shelters. He bought an aircraft for $70,000 and packed it with dog kennels before flying them to safety.
Paul began learning to fly as a pastime in 2013, and while studying for his pilot’s license, he decided to add a puppy to his family. At the time, these two events appeared to be completely unconnected.
He discovered an unbelievable network of animal enthusiasts dedicated to rescuing unwanted pets from shelters. And it was through this network, which he had never heard of before, that he met his new family member, Tessa.
After acquiring Tessa from a rescue organization, Paul felt he wanted to help animals.
According to Paul, who spoke to The Dodo,
“We went to pet stores first, then to shelters, and we began to understand the differences. Tessa was adopted in August of 2013. And that was the turning point in my life. Everything about me altered as a result of that.”
Paul had completed his flying school and obtained his pilot’s license, and he planned to put it to good use. I wouldn’t do what a lot of other pilots do; instead, I’d utilize it to assist others.
He stated, ”
“I wanted to give up flying when I first started because I didn’t think I could do it, but I kept going back. ‘What am I going to do now?’ I wondered after I received my certification. Many pilots like flying to excellent restaurants or destinations, which is fine, but I needed a new motivation to take to the skies.”
Initially, Paul considered traveling to high-kill shelters and transporting the animals in order to assist them in finding homes. He understood, however, that if he transferred dozens of abandoned animals in a different method, he could offer them new lives.
Paul stated, ”
“It was upsetting to see the pets at the shelter. It was heartbreaking to think that so many animals were being killed because they were imprisoned in one location. The worse the pet overpopulation problem, the further south you go. It’s upsetting. I recognized that by going down there, picking them up, and transporting them to other shelters, I might make a difference.”
That’s how Paul became involved with Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit that connects volunteer pilots with animal rescue organizations in need of transportation.
Even yet, Paul believed that if he started developing connections on his own, he might save more animals. That’s why, in May, he founded Flying Fur Animal Rescue, which has saved over 1,657 animals since then, according to the organization’s website.