Pilots and Paws rescues dogs from the path of Dorian

Local News

12 News joins crews to help with rescue

Friday, August 30 – Sustained winds of 140 mph and predictions of more than 28 inches of rain. Hurricane Dorian is on a direct path to Palm Beach, Florida. Folks on the eastern coast of the state, wait to see if the storm will swerve toward the Bahamas, before deciding to evacuate.

Volunteers with the Clewiston, Florida animal rescue don’t have the luxury of time. A rescue flight out of Jackson, Mississippi is the only thing standing between a shelter full of dogs and euthanasia.

Pilots Jeff Wall and Ryan Kropog answer the request not sure which route Dorian will take. 12 News digital reporter Marcus James headed out the door and to the skies with them.

[8:15 am Saturday] Ryan Kropog of Hammond, LA walking toward the malibu plane before takeoff at the Hawkins Field Airport.

Paws and Pilots rescue flight departs Jackson, Mississippi

Jeff Wall, Malibu Pilot, walks us through his flight plan after take-off.
12 News Digital Correspondent Marcus James goes live before takeoff.

Flight to West Palm Beach, Florida

This is the intensity of the weather along with the flight plan Wall files. No guarantees what they will meet along the path.

Clewiston rescuers ready dogs for flight to Nashville

Along the way, the storm changes direction – still the pilots are committed to getting the dogs transported to safety.

Roughly half a dozen dogs from the shelter in Lake Okeechobee made it out Saturday right before a Category-4 hurricane Dorian predicted landfall with the help of volunteers with Pilots N Paws, Clewiston Animal Control, and Big Fluffy Dog Rescue.

[1:30 pm Saturday] Pilot Jeff Wall & Ryan Kropog prepare kennels for shelter dogs.

The urgency for help is clear, move the last of the dogs that were in danger of drowning in floodwaters in Lake Okeechobee.

The request came from Pilots N Paws founder Debi Diefendorff Boies and others to help deliver the animals to Jean Harrison of Nashville based Big Fluffy Dog Rescue who agreed to take any remaining animals no questions asked.

[1:50 pm Saturday] Pilot Jeff Wall & Laura Smith, a volunteer for Clewiston Animal Control preparing a kennel at the Immokalee Airport for transfer to Big Fluffy Rescue in Nashville.
[2:02 pm Saturday] Jeff Wall gets one of the shelter canine dogs in position on the malibu “Pilots and Paws” airplane.

Jeff says he’s been rescuing animals for seven years and he understands this is what his calling is.

[2:02 pm Saturday] Laura Smith, a volunteer for Clewiston Animal Control loads a shelter dog onto the airplane at the Immokalee Airport to be transferred to Big Fluffy Rescue in Smyrna, TN.

These pilots are a life-line for animals who don’t have any means of getting out of harm’s way.

“Big Fluffy Dog rescue in Tennessee, they helped us out last year. Once again, they’re doing the same. Their rescue and our animals taking them to Tennessee”

-Kathy Irey, Shelter Volunteer

Braving the weather to safety in Tennessee

This dog was one of several who faced euthanasia unless transferred from Hurricane Dorian’s path.

Mission Accomplished

Digital Reporter Marcus James, Jeff Wall, and Ryan Kropog arrive back at Hawkins Field Airport.

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