A 45-year-old Pennsylvania man named Paul Steklenski has a big soft spot for hard-luck animals, so in 2015, he decided to do something to saves the lives of stray dogs who would otherwise be euthanized. That’s when he founded Flying Fur Animal Rescue, a non-profit dog rescue.
But not only Steklenski start his non-profit, he also learned how to fly, got his pilot’s license, and spent $70,000 to purchase his own plane all for the cause!
He started taking flying lessons purely as a hobby in 2013, but that hobby has since turned into a mission.
Steklenski flies into areas that are overpopulated with strays– areas where shelters cannot hold the surplus of animals and resort to euthenasia– loads as many animals as possible into his plane and flies them to shelters in states where they’re more likely to be adopted. Often times these shelters are in areas like New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In the last two years, Steklenski estimates he’s single-handedly saved more than 740 animals, including dogs like Kendall, who was rescued from an abandoned property in North Carolina.
“I could see that in his crate, he was shaking, scared, and nervous; I didn’t want to put him in another crate by himself on the aircraft, so I placed him next to me for the rescue flight north,” wrote Stekelnski, an Army veteran.
Though initially timid and scared, “he soon warmed up, snuggled, sang, and slept in my lap.”
Then there’s Maximus, who was used as a bait dog and left in a cemetery to die. He was covered in more than 150 wounds and ultimately had to have a leg amputated, but Maximus finally found a loving home near Philadelphia.
His transport sticks out as the most painful for Steklenski, adding that “this poor little pup did nothing to deserve what happened to him, but has since deserved every bit of love and compassion shown to him.”
Watch the video below to see one of Steklenski’s passengers taking in the view, and share to spread smiles!