We sat down and interviewed Brad Childs, our Regional Vice President of Eyetique, to learn more about the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team and how they impact our community. The Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team is a special organization that answer calls from shelters across the nation to rescue animals that are in danger of being euthanized. Once the rescue mission is accepted, it is planned, and a decision is made when to fly or drive to rescue the animals. After the mission is complete, the animals are then taken to a no-kill shelter, foster family, or their “furever” home. That animal is then given a second chance to live their life to the fullest with a loving family. Brad shares the journey of how PAART started and the influence their team has nationally as they continue to execute rescue missions every week.
How did the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team start?
“My partner, Jonathan, and I started taking small missions to rescue dogs because animals were a passion of ours. It also gave us a reason to fly after getting our pilot’s license. This turned into small flights, picking up dogs and later we decided we could turn this into something bigger, knowing the business side of operations. This is how PAART started its journey.”
In 2012, PAART became an official non-profit. What did that process look like and how did it make you feel to become official?
“Eyetique actually funded PAART, a lot of people do not know this. A supportive patient found out about PAART and wanted to be involved in some way. This patient offered their legal services to formalize PAART into becoming an official non-profit. Afterward, PAART got their feet off the ground due to local businesses and families. Everyone helped by making generous donations to go towards animal rescue missions.”
Where did the #NoDogLeftBehind inspire from?
“The #NoDogLeftBehind was inspired by us looking at each mission and asking ourselves the question “what if we don’t go?” What would happen to those animals? It became a central theme that inspired each mission. The idea was that each mission, and each animal, represents an opportunity to change the life of that person who ends up adopting that animal. In the beginning, we were always faced with the possibility that we could not fit all animals in our first plane. There were times when we would have to leave a dog behind, but would promise the shelter we would come back for that one dog later on. No Dog Left Behind became our unofficial motto between Jonathon and myself.
How often does PAART complete rescue missions?
“We complete about 120 rescue missions a year. That is 2-3 animal rescues a week completed by the team at PAART.”
How many animals have been rescued by PAART?
“PAART has rescued over 11,000 animals since it started.”
How many animals are rescued annually? Is there a goal for 2019?
“We have rescued about 3,500 animals in 2019 so far. PAART has a goal to rescue 5,000 animals by the end of the year. The majority of our animals come from overcrowded shelters across the nation.”
How did Rachel Ray get involved with PAART?
“Rachel Ray found out about PAART and was interested in going on an animal rescue mission. She originally planned to be a part of an upcoming mission but due to harsh weather conditions, she had to cancel. Jonathan and I decided to complete the mission. Rachel Ray was disappointed that she could not participate in the mission due to circumstances, she decided to send a $25,000 check to PAART. Rachel Ray also organized Insider Edition to capture PAART’s latest rescue mission which was broadcast nationally on television. Fast forward a couple years, Rachel Ray continues to be amazed at PAART’s contribution. She decided to fund a new airplane which in return ended up being a million-dollar donation. This generous donation helped us increase the average number of rescues from 9 to 60 animals to be rescued. PAART continues to be successful due to the generosity of Rachel Ray and other donors, that have made significant contributions over the years.”
What makes PAART a special organization?
“Ultimately, PAART provides rescue service to get animals from point A to point B without charging animal shelters. We never fly empty-handed whenever we go on a mission. We actually bring dog and cat food to shelters to provide support to underserviced animal shelters. This allows rural shelters to feed the animals until the next rescue mission. The disaster relief missions are the most special ones because PAART is able to rescue hundreds of animals. For example, there were 400 animals saved during hurricane Harvey and floods in Houston in 2017. PAART is also able to help communities that are hit by disasters by flying in doctors, surgeons, electricians, or plumbers to provide service during difficult times.”
What ambitions do you have for PAART over the next five years?
“We want to gain national awareness and coverage with PAART. The main goal is to be put out of business. When that occurs, that means PAART has made a difference in educating the public on animal euthanasia.”