SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) – The pandemic has caused travel disruptions for just about everyone and that includes service animals but a national organization has found a solution.
Canine Companions is now working with volunteer pilots who are willing to take puppies on their trips across the country to where they’re needed.
Their most recent flight involved a dozen adorable puppies.
Talk about cuteness overload. These eight-week-old lab puppies are like fur-covered marshmallows, soft and sweet.
They’re getting some playtime at Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa before they’re loaded onto a plane for a flight to Ohio.
“We move our puppies to their volunteer puppy raisers across the country who teach them commands and socialize them until they’re about a year and a half,” Michelle Williams said.
Canine Companions is a national organization headquartered in Santa Rosa.
The puppies will be trained to be service animals and donated to those who need them.
“Open and closed doors and drawers, uh, turn on and off lights, uh, dogs that are matched with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder will learn anxiety and nightmare interruption,” Williams said.
The pandemic shut down the ability to fly the pups on commercial flights. That’s when Canine Companions reached out to local private pilots.
“I have, uh, meetings in Ohio and, uh, be there for a day or so. Um, I’ll be, uh, uh, and anytime I go on a trip, I check in with the dispatcher for canine and we, uh, uh, take dogs whenever we can,” pilot Jeff Stewart said.
The puppies are loaded onto this king air for the five and a half hour flight to Dayton.
“I’ve transported, uh, oh, over 50 dogs, uh, at this point, um, and have another trip next week to Seattle, um, delivered them all over the Western States. This is the furthest that I will have, uh, uh, taken dogs and we are, uh, it’s. It just feels great to be able to,” Stewart said.
The president of Sonoma Jet Center says he’s trying to spread the word so other pilots step up to help.
“Interestingly, when we got to Denver on there on my second flight, it was to Denver and there was another pilot standing there and he said, what’s going on? And I explained it to him. And he said, Oh, that sounds great. And he started flying flights and I think he’s done two or three,” Josh Hochberg said.
The pups made it to Ohio right on time and are now on their way to becoming valuable service animals for those in need.
All thanks to some Bay Area pilots.