Paul Steklenski is the name of the army veteran who now travels around the country to save pets at risk of euthanasia due to overpopulation in animal shelters.
Paul, 45, learned to fly after leaving the army and did it as a hobby. And now he’s bought his own $65,000 plane just to rescue hundreds of cats and dogs from shelters.
The veteran resides in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, and realized he wanted to save abandoned animals in shelters after he adopted a homeless dog that was at one of the rescue centers.
Paul Steklenski’s first idea was to drive to each of the shelters in the United States that kill his pets. And then transport the canines to other centers or locations to help them find a permanent home.
But something made the veteran doubt and was that driving wouldn’t be fast enough to save animals at risk of being killed, he knew he would be able to give many abandoned animals a chance if he transported them in another way.
In 2013, that’s when he started practicing how to fly a plane.
Flying for him was just a distraction until then, but everything stopped being a hobby when he realized that he needed to get his license to fly around the country on his animal rescue mission.
In May 2015, Paul Steklenski established Flying Fur Animal Rescue as a rescue organization and says he alone has saved 742 animals so far.
Many of the animals were neglected or mistreated before they reached the shelter. For Steklenski, seeing the dogs in the shelter was heartbreaking, he couldn’t stand the idea, nor could we, that the animals would be sacrificed because they were trapped in a certain area.
The further south you go, the more there is a problem of overpopulation of pets. That’s distressing.
I realized that I could help make a difference by going there, collecting them and taking them to other shelters,” says Paul.
The veteran spent eight years in the army and currently lives with his wife Michelle, 46; he spends a full day a month flying around the shelters and picking up some cats and dogs to save them from death.
Generally, his flights are from North Carolina to shelters in other states where there is a greater chance of being adopted. He got 23 pets on his plane at the same time.
The plane is a tool that allows me to do a lot in a day that I could not do with a bus. It’s a very sacrificed but very rewarding job,” says Paul.
Paul tells anecdotes that after the engine starts, the animals fall asleep or relax looking at the sky.
Now, at the Steklenski house, there’s a second adopted dog named Layla. The family has no children and having the company of dogs is now a blessing for both of them.
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