Army veteran uses pilot license to rescue dogs from kill shelters

Paul Steklenski is a U.S. Army veteran and a Cisco employee. He enjoys classic cars and cooking. He is also a hero to hundreds of animals.

After learning more about crowded shelters when he rescued his dog, Tessa, and fulfilling his dream of obtaining a pilot license in 2013, Steklenski considered how he might use his skills to help other animals in need of homes.

In 2015, Flying Fur Animal Rescue was born.

Steklenski purchased a plane and began transporting dogs along the East Coast, generally moving the animals from kill shelters in the South to no-kill shelters in the Northeast. Each trip costs around $500, most of which Steklenski pays for himself. In fact, he spends more than $10,000 a year out of his own pocket to save the lives of animals who would otherwise be doomed.

Steklenski has a full time job as a network engineer and transports dogs on his days off from work. He doesn’t earn anything from his efforts, save for some loving licks from his “pawsengers” and the gratification that comes with doing good.

As he stated in this Instagram post, “The lives of my pawsengers change from the day I get to help transport them—for me, the memories made on each flight will last me a lifetime.”

POE, gazing out over Montross, Virginia. Shortly after departure, I would find myself petting little Poe, and in short turn the affection was returned; he would soon clamor onto my lap, place his head on my shoulder, and gaze out into our world, from our 9,500′ cruising elevation. I tried, 3 or 4 times, to place him back in his seat; however this would be an exercise in futility, as he would simply climb back on to my lap and shoulder once again. Eventually I relented, and let him find his comfort, where ever he decided he would; after all, who was I to interrupt this moment in time for him. Most likely, he’d never have this opportunity again. The lives of my pawsengers change from the day I get to help transport them – for me, the memories made on each flight will last me a lifetime <3 #adopt #rescue #findyourself

A post shared by Flying Fur Animal Rescue (@flyingfuranimalrescue) on

Each flight involves multiple animals. While he transports between eight and 12 animals on the average trip, there are times when that number is much higher, such as the 23-dog rescue flight highlighted in this video.


While his nonprofit organization is currently only able to transport dogs within a specific range of the coast (see the map of Flying Fur’s transport area below), Steklenski works with other volunteers to transport animals out of his range. In addition, he is hopeful that the organization will grow and be able to save even more animals.

Flying Fur Animal Rescue

Flying Fur Animal Rescue has helped rescue more than 740 animals to date. With no administrative overhead or salaries, any money received through donations or purchases from the nonprofit’s Zazzle store goes back into the organization.

To find out about donating, volunteering and more, visit Flying Fur on the web.

[h/t: TODAY]