Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team helps rescue dogs caught in Hurricane Dorian
The Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team this week lent a helping hand to 20 dogs rescued from Hurricane Dorian when it struck the Bahamas.
The team flew the pups from Florida to New York.
They were among the 97 that Chella Phillips, a Nassau-based animal welfare advocate, saved during the hurricane.
They will be sheltered at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in East Hampton, N.Y., until they find permanent homes.
Mary Withrow, PAART’s executive director, said the nonprofit got involved in the rescue at the request of Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. The organizations have worked together in the past.
PAART, which operates out of the Allegheny County Airport, flies or drives animals from danger to safety.
“We were really inspired by the work that [Chella Phillips] has been doing in the Bahamas and just wanted to do what we could do to help out,” Withrow said.
Phillips opened her home to the dogs during the storm, writing on Facebook that 97 were inside her house and 79 of them were in her master bedroom.
“It has been insane since last night … but at least they are respecting my bed, and nobody has dared to jump in,” Phillips wrote on Sept. 1.
Withrow said she was surprised when she first heard that Phillips had taken in so many dogs, but her worries were alleviated when she saw photos of them. They looked healthy, she said.
“If you’ve ever been to the islands, there are dogs everywhere. She was just trying to get some of them healthy and a place to stay and something to eat. She’s a one woman army, really,” Withrow said.
PAART flew the dogs from the Daytona Beach International Airport to the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Southampton, N.Y. The flight took nearly two hours.
The nonprofit has its own plane, but Withrow said charter company Corporate Air let it use one of its planes to get the dogs to New York faster.
“Our plane would have been much slower. We wanted to get them to where they needed to be as quickly as possible. They’ve been through a lot,” Withrow said.
Other groups involved in the rescue effort include Guardians of Rescue of Smithtown, N.Y., and Second Chance Rescue NYC of New York City.
“It was a great team effort that was really between a whole bunch of small organizations. It’s impressive to get done what you get done with just groups of small organizations,” Withrow said.