Pilots N Paws touches down Hickory

Michael Praat – Hickory Daily Record

Engines recently rumbled and tails wagged on a Saturday as Pilots N Paws touched down at the Hickory Regional Airport.

Pilots N Paws a non-profit organization and local animal rescue Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue provided transport to more than 300 rescue dogs.

The program takes dogs out of shelters that euthanize and sends them to non-kill shelters, foster homes and adoptive homes.


 Planes brought the animals from the Metro-Atlanta area, stopping in Hickory to switch planes, refuel, and lets the dogs eat and relax.

The pilots for the program are all volunteers, said Beverley Snowden, a volunteer with the program. The pilots used their own planes and fuel to transport and save the dogs. The majority of the final destinations for the dogs was Virginia; from there they go to their new homes.

Pilots came from all around including Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.

Richard Lewis has been volunteering with the program as a pilot for about five years now, he said. Lewis said he looks on an online message board to see when animals need transportation and, if he is available, flies to get the dogs.

Hartman’s Haven provided 12 local volunteers to help attend to the dogs needs while they had their layover in Hickory.

NC Pilot loves flying & animals!

By Adelina Colbert

Two things Mark Avellino, a Marine staff sergeant stationed at Camp Lejeune,  loves are flying and animals.

So on a recent Saturday morning, 28-year-old Avellino strapped a crate that housed a Maine Coon cat called Rascal into the cabin of his Piper Cherokee 140 and took to the skies as a volunteer pilot with Pilots N Paws.

“This would be my first cat,” said Avellino, who was headed to Staunton, Virginia, to place the 5-year-old feline into its new home. “Everything I’ve done is dogs so far. It’s mostly dogs that you’ll find on Pilots N Paws, at least going up through this area.”

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