A girlfriend and a rescue dog together led Guild member Gerald Herbert to save animals’ lives by flying them from a high-kill shelter in one city to rescue groups in another.
Herbert, a photographer and videojournalist in New Orleans, got his pilot’s license after covering the Gulf oil spill. His conversations with pilots _ and his weariness with the five-hour drive between New Orleans and Shreveport to visit his girlfriend (now fiancé) _ convinced him to fulfill what he describes as his mid-adult dream. He now owns a Cessna 172 that cuts his travel time to Shreveport to two hours and 15 minutes.
He also owns a rescue dog named Scottie, a chihuhua-Bichon Frise mix that was stuffed in a storm drain in his neighborhood. A neighbor rescued Scottie, and Herbert adopted “11 pounds of dog with 100 pounds of personality,” Herbert said.
“I became much more conscious of the problem of abandoned and abused dogs through my special relationship with him,” he said.
He now flies mission for Pilots N Paws and works with the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter, which puts dogs on his plane when he flies home, where rescue groups in New Orleans and Baton Rouge take the dogs.
“They are usually pulled from kill shelters by breed-specific rescue groups who scour shelters across the country looking for their breed (or related mix) to save them from euthanasia,” Herbert said. “They then seek ground and air transport, usually requiring multiple legs by multiple pilots and drivers, to other parts of the country where they are rehabbed for adoption. Sometimes they go to foster homes for this process, sometimes to volunteer veterinarians for courtesy medical treatment. Thus the end result is that perfectly wonderful dogs not seen by the public are rescued from their anonymity on doggie death row and ultimately wind up in loving homes.”
</blockquote>The end result is that perfectly wonderful dogs not seen by the public are rescued from their anonymity on doggie death row and ultimately wind up in loving homes.”</blockquote>
He’s now involving friends in his volunteer work. He used Facebook to search for someone to foster an American bulldog through the holidays until she could get to a Florida rescue group. His friends are now asking to foster more dogs.
“So there is a nice reward knowing you are not only helping these dogs but also impacting others’ lives as well,” he said.