PITTSBURGH AVIATION ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM
To save the lives of animals in danger while enriching the lives of people.
What We Do:
What began as one dog on an airplane several years ago has evolved into a team of over 100 volunteers who fly or drive animals from danger to safety free of charge to both the sender and receiver.
The idea was simple, an animal in one shelter that has run out of time can be transported to another shelter with the space and resources to spare their lives. This bridge between shelters simultaneously opens up space in the overcrowded shelter and gives shelters with open space animals to adopt out to the public.
Today thousands of animals every year are given a second chance to enrich the lives of the people who adopt them. Each and every one of these life saving transports is done with a team of volunteers who do this free of charge to the underfunded shelters who need us.
How It All Began
The seeds were planted in 2006 when best friends Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset needed to find a creative way to use the skills they learned earning their pilots licenses. The duo began seeking out charitable missions that would benefit from the use of an airplane. A phone call from a friend about a 90 pound bulldog named Monte that needed transport to a “furever” home was the inspiration that began it all. Brad, along with our flight instructor Pete, flew the dog to Philadelphia. During the flight the team learned their first lesson about animal rescue; make sure the dog is secured. An excited Monte escaped from the back and came crashing into Brad’s lap, nosediving the airplane. The excitement of the adventure, and the realization that they could do something to help, instantly hooked and inspired them. Over the next few years the guys flew missions for other groups while learning about animal rescue.
In July of 2009 Jonathan and Brad were contacted about a dire situation facing animal shelters in Georgia that were running out of food. The two best friends decided to use their companies, Eyetique and Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel, to raise money to help save some of these animals. Their efforts raised over 48,000 pounds of dog food which Brad and Jonathan, along with Brad’s wife Linda, personally delivered to Georgia-area shelters. This experience gave the guys their first taste of fundraising. Upon their return home on July 9th the City of Pittsburgh decreed by proclamation that this date would be forever known as the Eyetique and Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel “Puppy Eyes Day” in Pittsburgh.
Formally Becoming A Non-Profit
In 2012, after learning the ins and outs of the rescue world, and experiencing some of the pitfalls, the guys saw an opportunity to create a new kind of animal welfare organization. Thousands of animals in neighboring states were being euthanized because no one could afford to transport these animals. The two pilots started offering free air transport to qualified non- profit shelters for any animal whose time was running out. In order to grow this concept and continue to offer their service for free they needed to be able to bring in funding from outside sources. Brad and Jonathan, along with their wives, Linda and Megan, decided to formally apply for 501(c)(3) status. A little over a year later they were granted their non-profit status and the guys began the process of building the organization under the name Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team.
The team started out picking up animals from nearby shelters and delivering them to their new homes. Soon they were transporting 10 to 15 animals at a time with multiple airplanes. In order to make the trips more efficient they would pack the empty planes with food and supplies and deliver them to these same shelters that were desperate for help. Through the use of social media, PAART began getting requests from all over the country to transport rescued animals. They have flown thousands of animals since their inception, the majority are dogs, but the team also rescue cats, sea turtles, and the occasional pig or python.
(Linda Childs, Brad Childs, Megan Plesset, Jonathan Plesset)
The Organization Spreads Its Wings
The weather in the Northeast makes flying missions during the winter months difficult on the team. After a harsh winter in 2014 the guys determined that in order to expand their reach and ensure that their mission grows, they needed to expand into land transports to stretch their rescue season. Finding the funding to purchase and outfit a rescue van proved difficult but the team was gaining in popularity and soon was the subject of a national news story. Celebrity animal lover Rachael Ray took notice and decided to make a large donation which was used to open a new division, the PAART Land Team. With a 50-animal rescue van, nicknamed the “Landplane,” the team could now transport hundreds of animals per month on the ground. If the planes can’t fly due to adverse weather, the van is ready and able.
With a fleet of airplanes and land rescue vehicles, PAART is now able to transport thousands of animals each year free of charge all over the eastern part of the United States and even internationally.
Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team is a fast growing nonprofit. What started out as two best friends looking for an excuse to use their pilot skills has turned into a multifaceted animal charity that provides a second chance for animals in crisis.
The Need To Help
According to the ASPCA 1.5 million animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) are euthanized each year in shelters all over the United States. 6.5 Million animals enter US shelters each year and approximately 3.2 million animals are adopted. The reasons for such dire numbers have a lot to do with our culture and the limited resources available to help animals. To help alleviate some of these numbers organizations all over the world have taken multiple approaches including promoting spay and neuter, better education, and more allocating more capital for expanding shelter space.
PAART was created to help on the solve some of these issues hands on and on the front lines. Everyday shelters are brining in animals in numbers sometimes higher than they are adopting them out. This can be due to a situations where the shelter is in a low population density area or the shelter is simply too small to handle the incoming pet population. Shelters faced with this crisis have two options, find other shelters with space and try and transfer the animals there or euthanize the animals. Unfortunately the cost to euthanize is much lower than the cost to transport.
PAART was created to give shelters a new option, free transport of the animals scheduled to be euthanized. Our team is contacted and we arrange to try and empty the shelter and bring these animals into a no-kill shelter in an higher population area where these animals can be adopted. This has a doubling effect since the space we open in that shelter prolongs the time other animals have to be adopted and opens up space to bring animals in from the streets. Each year we help thousands of animals make this journey from danger to safety.
Thousands of animals are in loving homes today because our team is focused on making sure these animals see another day. The process starts when a shelter or rescue group reaches out to our team about animals that are on the list to be euthanized. We contact our network of affiliates to find another shelter with space or we work with the sending entity to coordinate with the receiving shelter they have already chosen. We are careful to ensure that animals we transport are not going back into another dangerous situation. Most of our work is with shelters in rural areas or places with a lower population density. We can take these animals and transport them to larger facilities with more resources and a higher population center.
Once a plan is set and we are comfortable with where the animals will go, we put out a call to our pilots or drivers and, depending on the circumstances, we decide to either fly or drive. On land missions we can carry around 50 animals per transport van. When we deploy all three transport vehicles we have the capability to rescue 200 animals in one mission. In the airplane space is more limited with 5 to 15 animals the typical mission size. In late summer of 2018 we will take possession of a new plane capable of rescuing 30 animals per mission. Once the team is picked, and we determine if it goes by air or land, we work out the details of the trip and create a document called a Run Sheet. The Run Sheet has all of the vital information on where we are going, who we are meeting, and where we are taking the animals. The mission is then given the green light and we deploy either the PAART airplane or one of three PAART rescue vehicles. (Landplanes)
PAART Area of Operation
Animals are in danger all over the world. Each day thousands of animals are put down for reasons as simple as a lack of space. Our team is the last chance for these animals. When we are asked to help we have two primary determinators for how far we can travel.
First and foremost the comfort and safety of our animals is the most important factor in deciding how far our teams can travel. Missions that take place on the ground are often times much longer but require frequent breaks for the animals and our drivers. A lot of times we send the team the day before so they can rest up in a hotel overnight. Once the Landplanes are rolling with animals on board they cannot stop overnight so our distance needs to factor in changing drivers when they are fatigued. Air missions are vital and our continued push for larger planes is due to the advantages in time and distance we can cover in the air. During an air mission a pilot can cover the distance between our headquarters in Pittsburgh and as far southwest as Texas in around 7 to 8 hours. Our pilots typically fly for three hours at a time before landing for fuel. Just like on the ground, once the plane is loaded with animals we cannot stop overnight so the mission has to be completed with the day it begins.
The second consideration for the distance we can cover is costs. Our teams offer our service free of charge to both the sender and receiver. The organization is 100% funded from private donations. In order to keep the lights on we have to be selective in the missions and focus on maximizing our very limited resources. Typically the longer the distance the more animals we need to be helping to justify the costs. Our goal is to continue to grow while helping the most animals possible. We started with about 50 animals per year and have grown to help thousands each year.
PAART understands the importance of maximizing donor resources. Our first job is to keep our fiduciary duty to our donors always at the forefront of our decisions. We do this by applying business principles that we draw upon from our founders and Board of Directors. Every year our goal is to lower our “Cost Per Animal,” or CPA. We measure our efficiency by calculating that number and we use that calculation as a factor in conducting missions. During the first few years, our CPA was around $50. As we started to grow the number decreased as we started to benefit from economies of scale. Two years ago we had the CPA below $30 and so far this year we are close to driving that figure below $15. We do this with careful planning. A mission that would go 750 miles for 5 dogs isn’t feasible and could push the CPA above $50. If we can take animals in both directions or make multiple stops along the way, that number can be cut in half. Each mission is evaluated this way, which keeps our costs under control. People are usually astonished when they hear how little we operate on per year. This is testament to an organization with its roots in harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit.
Board of Directors
Thank you for you interest in PAART! We strive to be as transparent as possible with our donors and the public. Your support has been instrumental in helping us save thousands of animals. When we originally filed to be a non-profit there was a typo in our name. We corrected the issue back in 2013 but still see the issue pop up from time to time. Our official name is Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. Occasionally though we are displayed on forms as Pittsburgh Animal Aviation Rescue Team. While we would love to see animals aviate it is just not possible…yet 🙂 Please note that these two names are the same entity, us!
PAART is a 501c(3) Charity. Our Tax ID is 45-5576740
PAART 990 Disclosure
PAART Community Outreach
At PAART, we feel strongly about animal welfare and have a responsibility to children and community members to help educate them about responsible pet ownership and some of the improper treatment that goes on. We have presented to Sunday schools and church groups as well as elementary classrooms and participants have shown enthusiasm and interest in our message.
Our program aims to inform groups about animal rescue and uses captivating photos and real-life experiences to stress the importance of giving back and caring for those that can’t take care of themselves, regardless of skin or fur color. Showing how participants can make an impact, the program can also include trips to the Allegheny County Airport to see the plane the animals are transported in or have a fundraising component to donate food and supplies or sponsor a flight.
A great example of a community member giving back to PAART occurred when a 7-year-old boy heard about our mission and decided to collect money for our charity in lieu of getting birthday presents. He collected a total of $575 and even made a trip out to see the plane and meet the pilots and pets!
We’re hoping to spread the word even further through our program. If we can reach one person, to save one more life, then we’re fulfilling our mission. Contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in a program for your group or want to help us out.
For media inquires please email Jonathan Plesset at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HELP SAVE A LIFE
Somewhere right now there is an animal in a shelter with only a few hours left. With your support PAART can bring them from danger to safety.
A RESCUE MISSION
PAART is funded through private donations and sponsorships. Our services are offered to shelters free of charge. Sponsor a rescue mission and watch your donation save the lives of animals