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“A Flight for Life” – Article on our Most Recent Transport

cloudninerescueflights : August 29, 2016 11:07 pm : Uncategorized

I’ll admit that I’m not the best at keeping up to date on the blogs about our transports. Truthfully, part of the reason is that I feel I don’t do the story justice in my writing. However Amee Abel from the Monadnock Humane Society did a wonderful job in the below story on our most recent transport of 40 dogs from Houston to New Hampshire. This shows what we go through each and every transport, and why we do it. The below story is reprinted with permission.

 

A Flight for Life
Air Transport Saves Shelter Dogs
Contributed by Amee Abel
All photos courtesy Monadnock Humane Society

On a recent evening, animal welfare workers from around New England gathered at the tiny Keeneowned Dillant­Hopkins airport in Swanzey. Raging thunderstorms had plagued the area all day. They had driven through the stormy weather; now they worried the flight might be delayed.

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N620CA, the plane they waited for, carried precious cargo: 40 dogs were aboard the tiny twin­engine Cesna. Its pressurized cabin was loaded from floor to ceiling with crates of dogs going for the ride of their life. They were flying away from a region where pet overpopulation is the norm, and sweet, healthy, but unwanted dogs die daily.

In New England, where spay/neuter has become a cultural norm, shelters routinely are able to place 90 percent or more of their animals. Down south, where pet population control is less widely practiced, shelters more typically struggle to ensure a “live release rate” of between 40 to 60 percent. Turn that statistic to the mirror and face a grim truth – almost half the animals taken in to shelters down south are killed because there are too many dogs and cats.

Tonight’s flight coordinates a multiplicity of animal welfare groups. At the sending end, Operation Pets Alive (OPA) works with shelters throughout Montgomery County, Texas, to identify and take charge of those at­risk dogs who present the best profile as adoption candidates. Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, a nonprofit dedicated to providing safe, fast and cost­effective air transport for shelter and rescue animals, operates the plane. On the receiving end this evening are Monadnock Humane Society, Upper Valley Humane Society, Dakin Humane Society, and PAWS New England.

Unloading these crates takes a lot of help - they're heavy!

Unloading these crates takes a lot of help – they’re heavy!

“Our first responsibility is animals from our community, of course,” said Emily Kerylow, director of shelter operations at Monadnock Humane Society. The tall brunette with an easy smile speaks quickly and with authority. “Often, those animals need a lot of care before they are ready to go up for adoption.”

MHS began working with OPA a number of years ago. “They can meet our standards of providing animals with full medical records, so we know about the dogs we are receiving. The dogs OPA sends to us typically are adoptable in a week or so after they arrive,” Kerylow explained.

A sense of urgency is always present when you enter the animal welfare world. The lingo mimics that used by the military: mission, operations, outcomes, objectives. Time is critical; dogs and cats are sentient and short­ lived. Certain time periods in puppies’ lives are crucial for developing friendly and resilient companions; same with kittens.

It's not all fun and games - the paperwork must be in order for these transports!

It’s not all fun and games – the paperwork must be in order for these transports!

The clock is always ticking. Individual lives matter. Yet, behind each individual animal is a sea of individuals, all pressingly in need of care and caring. Resources are limited, very limited. People who work in animal welfare feel the pressure all the time.

“No one in the Northeast today really understands what’s going on down here unless you’ve seen it,” said Marcia Piotter, president of Operations Pets Alive. A veteran of almost 30 years in animal welfare work, her voice is gravelly with a slight Texas twang as she struggles to find a way to explain. “I just was…you go to a shelter and… for instance, the intake pens…there’s a mother with 11 newborn puppies in one corner, a mother with seven older puppies in another corner and a crate with a bunch of 5­month­old cattle dog puppies nearly bald from mange. That’s just a daily intake. They’ve just been dropped off. It’s awful.”

Over the years, OPA has worked the kinks out of its transport system. They’ve built relationships with a num­ber of shelters in the Northeast who dependably welcome dogs on a predictable schedule. That allows Marcia and her team to enter Montgomery County shelters knowing just how many dogs they can bring out. As they walk through the adoption rooms, they have a checklist of qualities that allows them to make an initial cut.

Once they’ve identified the possibles, they begin assessing individuals. The ones who demonstrate a likeable and resilient character are taken by OPA and put into two­week foster homes while OPA provides basic medical care such as vaccinations and spay/neuter. The volunteer foster families work with these dogs to get them ready for their forever homes.

“We try to give the Northeast shelters exactly what they are looking for,” says Piotter. “In exchange, we ask them to put $50 dollars per dog into our local spay/neuter program so we can make every transport a double­ whammy on our pet population: One gone into a home and one more who can’t have puppies.” For some shelters, this feels too much like buying dogs, so the contribution is voluntary, and not a condition for receiving dogs from OPA.

Tonight’s flight is using Cloud Nine Rescue Flight’s new bird – a used Cessna 414 that has double the capacity of its original plane. Since 2009, when Ted DuPuis launched his nonprofit, Cloud Nine’s moved more than 2,000 dogs. However, the new plane needs some vital work to keep it flying. Cloud Nine is actively seeking donations for a $27,000 replacement of propellers.

“I do it for the dogs,” Ted DuPuis said of the operation he runs. “I don’t take a salary. I never will. The new plane will let us do more.”

And this is why we do it - for the puppies

And this is why we do it – for the puppies

Said OPA’s Piotter of Cloud Nine, “We like using them because we know only our dogs will be on the flight. Not saying that others aren’t doing their medical work, but we like knowing our dogs aren’t exposed to any other dogs in transit.” (OPA uses truck transports as well, but trucks take three days to make the journey that the plane can do in six hours.) Monadnock Humane Society’s canine coordinator, Beth Doyle, arrived at the airport in her own truck rather than using her organization’s van, because its air conditioning will make it easier to keep the dogs comfortable. For Doyle, this is the tail end of a work day that started at 6 a.m. In the seven years she’s been at MHS, she’s seen a steady decrease in the numbers of owner­surrenders of pregnant female dogs, Overall, the number of dogs coming in to MHS from its service area has decreased.

“Which leaves us with the capacity to bring in some easy­to­adopt animals,” she said.

Wearing a green T­shirt that bears an Upper Valley Humane Society logo, Amy Woodman, shelter director, joins the conversation as we await the flight.

“We’ve seen a decrease in owner­surrender and an increase in return to owner at UVHS,” she said. “Our first responsibility is to care for our local animals, but we have empty kennels, which is a good thing. When we have the space, why not bring in some dogs who might otherwise not make it?” Woodman asked.

At last, the runway lights blaze on, and a few minutes later, a sleek, twin­engine plane taxis to a stop against a sky full of sculpted grey clouds in the gathering dusk. The airport is so rural there are no gates: The pilot steps onto the tarmac, and we all head out to greet him, and begin the process of getting the dogs. Lifting a pile of folders from a compartment in the wing, Cloud Nine’s DePuis begins a role call – handing all­important paperwork to each organization’s representative. Finally, the crates begin to be handed off the plane, and we get a look at what we’re there for – sweet, wiggly, friendly puppies and dogs destined for long lives and soft beds.

Amee Abel is Community Outreach Coordinator at Monadnock Humane Society. In her spare time, she teaches dog training, or plays with her own three dogs.

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Some Statistics on Cloud Nine’s Success

cloudninerescueflights : August 22, 2016 11:54 pm : Uncategorized
To those who have donated to our fundraising efforts for new propellers so far, thank you! You are propelling us (pun intended) back to our mission of saving homeless pets. I wanted to give you some numbers that show the impact and reach of Cloud Nine, which wouldn’t be possible without your help.
1870. That’s the number of homeless pets Cloud Nine has transported to their forever homes since I founded this organization over 7 years ago. Without a transport from Cloud Nine, these wonderful animals would never have found their forever homes.
18,000: That’s how many human years of happiness we’ve provided to homeless pets and their forever homes.
110. That’s how many transports we have flown. These transports have reached all corners of North America!
26. That’s how many states we have served, either rescuing homeless pets from, or delivering homeless pets to find forever homes. We aren’t regional, we’re national!
153. That’s how many pets we’ve saved in just 4 transports in our new-to-us Cessna 414. That’s an average of more than twice the pets per flight on only 20% more fuel!
0. That’s how much money we’ve spent on salaries, bonuses, and the like. We’re 100% volunteer, and always will be!
0. That’s how many more homeless pets we’ll be able to save without your help.
Did you know that if everyone reading this blog donated $25, we’d be done in under one day? Whether you can donate $25, $50, $100, or even $5, it all helps us get there! Help this thermometer burst! It’s getting fuller by the day!
Update August 23rd: In the past 24 hours, we’ve raised more than $1,400, more than quadrupling how much money we’ve raised so far! That’s the power of $25. The thermometer has been updated accordingly. Thank you!
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EMERGENCY! Cloud Nine Grounded!

cloudninerescueflights : August 18, 2016 10:42 pm : Uncategorized
I am sad to report that Cloud Nine is forced to temporarily suspend operations. The good news is you can help get us back in the air!
Earlier this year, Cloud Nine upgraded aircraft from our 1967 Cessna 310 to a 1977 Cessna 414. While the 310 was a wonderful aircraft in excellent condition, the needs of the groups that we work with pushed us towards a bigger aircraft. We were receiving a number of requests to fly larger numbers of dogs and larger dogs, which the 310 was not able to do. Additionally, we were receiving requests to perform transports that involved crossing the Rockies, the sorts of trips that would require turbochargers and pressurization to do safely and reliably.

I am happy to report that the 414 has been phenomenally successful as a plane for Cloud Nine. We have close to double the capacity while burning only 20% more fuel, making it not only much more capable, but also much more efficient. Our cost per dog we save has been reduced significantly. In just 4 missions since bringing the plane online in June, we have flown over 150 homeless dogs to safety!
Unfortunately, at the conclusion of our most recent trip, we found issues with both of the propellers on the plane. These issues require that we repair both propellers before we continue any further missions. Looking at the options available to us, the best solution that will also provide the best value and improve our capabilities further is to purchase new propellers. We have managed to negotiate a large discount on propellers for our 414. However, we still need to raise $27,000 to purchase these new propellers.

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This is an emergency situation! Until we raise the money for new propellers, we will be unable to respond to any mission requests, leaving us unable to save the homeless pets that need transport to their forever homes. Please help us! We will continue to update you on the status, and use this thermometer to show you where we are.
With your help, we can get this thermometer bursting! Please don’t let the homeless pets down who depend on our transports! Donate today at www.cloudninerescueflights.org/donate
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