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Local pilot helps fly neglected animals to new forever homes

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:26 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Some call it volunteering. Others call it a rescue mission.

As local pilot Travis Spears started up his plane, he knew this might not be your typical rescue mission, but it was an important one.

Spears is a teacher and a pilot known for his sky-view pictures of the CSRA, but at Daniel Field, he climbed into his plane and took off on his way to rescue puppies.

“It was a mother dog and 10 puppies, so 11 dogs total, that were abandoned down at St. Simon’s Island. And they were literally left on the steps of the animal shelter in the middle of the night,” he explained.

It took all hands on deck, as Spears flew to meet a pilot from Raleigh, North Carolina. That pilot then flew back and met a third pilot, who would take the puppies to Maryland.

“This one was a lot more special because I had ten puppies back there, and one that needed care the whole way back,” Spears explained.

Spears also volunteers for Pilots-n-Paws, a nonprofit organization made up of pilots who works to save abused and neglected animals.

“It’s just a bunch of pilots like myself who loves aviation and who loves animals, and you combine the two together, and a lot of us are going to go out and volunteer our time to help,” Spears said.

The organization helps nearly 500,000 of them each year, and this wasn’t Spears’ first flight either.

“This flight was the 26th Pilot-n-Paws flight I’ve done, and counting these eleven dogs, that was animal number 51 that I’ve saved in one way or another,” he said.

He usually just flies with one or two dogs at a time. But this three-hour round-trip flight was not easy.

“It was nerve-wracking at first. I was worried about getting the ten puppies and getting them all in the plane and making sure they were all safe,” Spears said.

Spears says it’s all worth it, knowing these animals are going to a good home.

“A lot of times it’s taking them from somewhere to where they’re going to get a home, where they can stay forever. It’s a wanting to help people and a love for aviation, so I can combine the two, and it’s been a great experience,” Spears said.

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