PAART is dedicated to providing animals a second chance by offering free transport from danger to safety. If an animal is in danger of being euthanized by an underfunded shelter, displaced by a natural disaster, or in an abusive situation, our team is ready to give them a chance at a new beginning. Our trained volunteer pilots and drivers provide a second chance to 1000’s of animals in need each year. Through the education of the community, specifically our youth on animal welfare and responsible ownership, PAART can help create change both by our lifesaving work and by imparting the lessons we demonstrate our youth with our rescue missions. Each day thousands of animals wake up not knowing if this will be their last day. PAART’s mission is to give them hope.
The Early Days
The seeds were planted in 2006 when best friends Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset needed to find a creative way to use their pilots licenses. Uninspired by just flying around and eating lunch the duo began seeking out charitable missions to fly with their airplane. A phone call from a friend about a 90 pound Bulldog named Monte that needed transport to a forever 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, responded to a post on the Animal Rescue Flights internet forum about a dire situation in Georgia regarding animal shelters 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 the 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. Many times animals were being euthanized because no one could afford to transport these animals. The guys started offering free transport for qualified non- profit shelters to any animal in need. 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 decided to formally apply as a non-profit charity. The organization would apply for 501 (c)(3) status and operate under the name Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. A little over a year later they were granted their non-profit status and the guys began the process of building the organization.
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 of which are dogs, but also cats, ducks, and the occasional pig or python.
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. The team was gaining in popularity and soon a national story about PAART was picked up. Celebrity animal lover Racheal Ray took notice of the team and decided to make a large donation which the team used to open a new division, the PAART Land Team. With a 70 animal rescue van, nicknamed the “Landplane” the team could now transport hundreds of animals per month on the ground. If the planes can’t go due to weather the van is ready and able.
With a fleet of airplanes and land rescue vehicles PAART is now able to transport 1000’s 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 pilots license has turned into a multifaceted animal charity that provides a second chance for animals in crisis.