Pittsburgh-Based Dog Rescue Flew 1,500 Miles to Save 14 Dogs from Hurricane Laura in Louisiana

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Sep. 24 2020, Updated 4:13 p.m. ET

No Dog Left Behind, the mission of the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team (PAART), recently flew 1,500 miles round trip from Pittsburgh to the Gulf Coast to rescue 14 dogs who had to be given up due to Hurricane Laura. That may seem like a long distance, but this is what No Dog Left Behind does.

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According to a press release, the dogs had been surrendered to a local animal shelter. Their owners simply knew that they could no longer provide them with the safe home they needed because they'd experienced such extreme damage from the Hurricane that they couldn't return home.

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That's a terribly sad thing. But No Dog Left Behind swooped in to make sure these pups remained safe and loved and found new forever homes. 

"My heart just breaks for these families," said Jonathan Plesset, co-founder of No Dog Left Behind. "To say goodbye to a pet they love, even if they know it's the right thing to do, has to hurt so much. It's nothing short of heroic.

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"I want all of them to know: I give you my word that we will take care of your pups like they're our own, and find them safe homes in Pittsburgh." No Dog Left Behind co-founder Brad Childs adds, "Our team stands with the people impacted by this devastation."

In a video about the mission, No Dog Left Behind explains, "During Hurricane Laura, families who lost everything had to do the heroic act of giving up their pets so they both could survive. Hope for these animals came in the form of a 15-hour rescue flight to give 14 of them a second chance."

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PAART pilot Pete Lehmann said, "Today we'll be flying to Monroe, Louisiana to help the animal victims of the hurricane. People have lost their homes. They've had to give up their pets. We have an obligation to help them."

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In Louisiana, the dogs were packed into padded crates and loaded into the plane for their long journey. Once they landed in Pittsburgh, PAART Landpilot David Stash had a truck ready to take the pups on "the last leg of their journey from danger to safety."

At the end of the flight, pilot Pete Lehmann said, "After 14 hours of flying, I'm left with the satisfaction of knowing that these dogs have a future.

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This may seem like a special case, but this is what No Dog Left Behind does. This rescue mission was PAART's 49th of the year. According to the organization's website, they have helped over 12,000 animals get from danger to safety — dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, chickens, and more.

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No Dog Left Behind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2013. Their mission is to save animals from dangerous situations, including natural disasters and kill shelters. They transport them to no-kill shelters and other safe situations, simultaneously saving the animals in need and opening up space at shelters for other animals who might need help.

There are several ways you can get involved with No Dog Left Behind. Head to their website to see how to donate, sponsor a rescue mission, or volunteer as a pilot, landpilot, and more. 

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