Frequently Asked Questions

Pilots To The Rescue is an animal rescue organization devoted to saving homeless pets from euthanasia and transporting them to larger shelters, where they are more likely to be adopted. We work with animal shelters all over the United States to learn when pets are placed on euthanasia lists so we can find space, often in other states, and coordinate rescues with our fleet of volunteer pilots. By transporting pets to new shelters in the quickest way possible - by air - the animals will have an easier time preparing for new lives with loving families.

What are your requirements for rescues?

  • Please only post transports of animals that are in danger and/or at risk of being euthanized. Do NOT post requests to transport personal pets.
  • You MUST have a recipient shelter for PTTR to do a transport. If you don't have a shelter, please view find a shelter.
  • PTTR CAN'T be compensated to transport animals (although donations are welcome). All our volunteers are doing this on their own time and out of their own pocket.
  • Requests that are less than 500 miles one-way are going to have the best chance of success (otherwise it will require multiple pilots/drivers). Consider driving yourself (or finding drivers) to go part of the way to accomodate our volunteer pilots/drivers if he or she are unwilling to go the whole distance.
  • Posts with photos/videos have a better chance of being seen! "A picture is worth a thousand words"

What are some guidelines for rescue organizations?

Here are some important guidelines for determining if your animals are fit for air transport.

Can your animal be moved? They must be able to be transported from a vehicle to an airplane and perhaps several.

Does your animal have any special needs? Please make sure the pilots are aware.

Keep in mind the flight times and distances that the pilots will travel. Average flight time is 2 hours round-trip thus, this rescue could involve pilot relays with multiple pilots involved doing the rescue. The animals will have to endure not only being transported from car to plane but plane to plane. Multiple take offs and landings. Make sure they are fit to fly!

Maintenance and weather issues do come up. Make sure you have a back up plan which might mean driving long distances to pick up stranded animals. You will also be responsible for finding appropriate foster/boarder in case of these issues.

Do not feed/allow drinking much prior to flight. after no problem.

Make sure you communicate with all parties involved and have the flight itinerary available. Cell phones and email contact information is recommended.

Arrive to the airport early. Don’t make your pilots wait.

Please have all necessary paperwork, collar, leash, medicines for all your animals. All animals should be clearly labeled as well as their crates.

Check state to state requirements.

6. Please have the necessary paperwork that is accompanying the animal and a collar and leash supplied. An ID collar should be on your animal with sending and receiving parties and contact information listed. NO bandanas, coats or sweaters please! A rabies certificate and a health certificate are needed.

The Pilot in Command (PIC) ultimately determined if your animals are fit to fly. They also determine weather, timing, condition of plane, etc. Understand the complexity of flight and adding this element to their mission. Do not pressure or push them to fly when they do not think it is advisable.

What are some guidelines for pilots?

Take into consideration the sizes, weights and temperaments of all animals as well as the crates they come in. If you have any doubt, ask the origin shelter/foster. Fitting all your animals in for transport is akin to a giant game of Tetris! Sometimes animals can be tethered in the back seat if they get along but using some sort of retention advice is advisable.

It is recommended to allow the animals to go to the bathroom before being loaded. Be prepared for animals to go to the bathroom or vomit on the plane. Carry plastic bags, odor eraser and paper towels. Waterproof tarps, drop clothes, seat covers or even a sheet to line the interior of your plane is highly recommended! Don’t feed the animals much prior to flight. After the flight is complete, feel free to give them food and water.

Unless the animals have behavior problems, it’s unnecessary to sedate them. Check with the origin shelter/foster if you have any doubts. Most of the animals go to sleep once in the air.

Make sure you have all the paperwork and medicine (if applicable) for each animal.

Always clean your crates and plane seats after each transport to avoid viruses.

Minimize the rate of those climbs or descents to minimize the discomfort to animals.

Bring a “co-pilot” with you to help assist with the animals. It’s not advisable to do these missions solo.

How much of your donations actually goes to the cause?

Pilots To The Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit and our intentions are to use all donations and monies received to support the cause of air rescue efforts. However, most of our volunteer pilots are private pilots and not available for hire. Thus, according to the FAA any monies paid or reimbursed to said pilots are considered compensation of flight and not allowable. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to use donations for actual flight rescues. Private pilots are required to pay for rescue flights out of their own pocket and deem what portion is deductible on their personal tax returns. You can read more about this HERE. Thus, most of our donations go to running our organization and supporting these rescue efforts in any way we can.

Are your pilots paid or reimbursed?

No. Most of our pilots are volunteer private pilots and not available for hire. Thus, according to the FAA any monies paid or reimbursed to said pilots is considered compensation of flight and not allowable. Private pilots are required to pay for rescue flights out of their own pocket and deem what portion is deductible on their personal tax returns.

Where can I find financial & good standing information on Pilots To The Rescue?

501c3 Status (search for our EIN: 47-3415146)

*Charity Navigator: we are working on getting listed. Currently, we do not raise enough donations to qualify ($1M+). Here are their criteria.

Can I rescue animals on my current trips?

Click here for a list of most major and regional airlines.

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