Army Veteran Flies Across America to Save More than 700 Pets from Kill Shelters

Army Veteran Flies Across America to Save More than 700 Pets from Kill Shelters

An Army veteran learned how to fly and bought his own plane so he could rescue hundreds of cats and dogs from kill shelters. 

 Paul Steklenski, 45, from Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, forked out $65,000 (£50,000) for an aircraft which he fills with crates of unloved animals facing euthanasia. The tank operator-turned-IT expert realised he wanted to save animals after adopting a homeless dog from a rescue centre. 

 At first, Mr Steklenski considered driving to kill shelters in the US and transporting the canines elsewhere by road to help them find owners.But he knew he would be able to give dozens more abandoned pets new lives if he transported them in another way. 

 He had coincidentally started learning how to fly in 2013 as a hobby, but realised at the same time that he wanted to rescue animals, so went on to get his licence. Then in May 2015 he set up Flying Fur Animal Rescue and says he's single-handedly saved 742 animals since then, many which were neglected or abused. 

In February the US Army ex-serviceman of eight years - an SPC who trained troops in Kentucky - even bought his own plane to help with the task.
'Seeing the dogs at the shelter was heartbreaking. It was horrible to think that there were so many animals being euthanized because they're stuck in a certain area. 

 The further south you go the more there is a pet overpopulation problem. It is distressing.'
'I realised I could help make a difference by going down there, picking them up and taking them to other shelters. 

The plane is a tool that allows me to do a lot in a day that I couldn't do with a bus. 'It's an extremely emotional job but it's very rewarding.'
Mr Steklenski, who lives with his wife, fellow IT expert Michelle, 46, takes off a day or a half day once a month to fly to shelters, where he picks up some cats as well as dogs. 

 The caring pilot, who went on to adopt a second dog himself, Layla, now loads as many dogs and cats as he can squeeze onboard in one go - sometimes up to 23 in one trip. 

He flies to North Carolina and takes them to shelters in other states where there's a better chance they'll be adopted.
But though it's a battle finding the funds, he says actually making the cross-country trip with dozens of dogs is straightforward. 

Mr Steklenski, who does not have children, said: 'Once the engine starts up they fall asleep or will stay awake and look out of the windows.'

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