The high-flying heroes saving animals from kill shelters.

On a clear, sunny day, Galaxy took flight.

The lanky white German shepherd soared high above the clouds on a private plane, a far cry from the streets of Southaven, Mississippi, where she was found. After getting used to the motion, Galaxy settled in to relax. She was finally going home.

All images via Pilots N Paws, used with permission.


Galaxy is one of the many lucky pets rescued and transported by Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit that pairs volunteer pilots with animals in need.

Pilots N Paws (PNP) was created in 2008, when Debi Boies asked pilot Jon Wehrenberg to help her fly a Doberman from Florida to South Carolina to save it from a cruel fate. The successful flight sparked the idea to rescue and relocated more animals — a service that is sorely needed.

Despite the success of spay and neuter campaigns, pet overpopulation remains a serious issue, and kill shelters are common, with an estimated 1.5 million dogs and cats euthanized each year. This problem is especially pronounced in parts of the rural South where there is limited access to affordable spaying and neutering services and poorly enforced leash laws.

PNP has more than 5,000 volunteer pilots using its online message board to look for animals in need of relocation.

Some pilots may be flying for business or pleasure and will pick up an animal headed to or from their destination. Others will take to the air specifically for PNP missions, each about 300 miles, bringing their kids or families along. It's a great way to volunteer, take to the skies, and see a new city outside of lunch at the airport.

PNP executive director Kate Quinn shared a recent e-mail from one of the pilots who wrote, "For me personally, I love to fly, my kids and I love animals, we always adopt rescue dogs. PNP gives me a rewarding reason to fly rather than just getting a burger."

The organization boasts another 12,000 volunteers on the ground who assist as foster parents, help out with transport to and from the airport, and coordinate rescues and pick-ups from shelters. A few of these volunteers have even started taking flying lessons so they can fly for PNP.

This year, PNP pilots will transport more than 15,000 animals.

Since the organization's founding, more than 150,000 animals have been rescued and relocated, including sweet Galaxy.

After getting picked up in Mississippi, she was taken in by a white German shepherd rescue in Tennessee then flew with pilot Jim Carney to her foster home in Alton, Illinois.

All of this may seem like a lot of work, time, and effort to save one pet, but it's bigger than that.

Each animal rescued becomes a beloved family member, trusted companion, loyal best friend, or even a hard working service dog. The animals are grateful beyond measure to live out their lives with loving families. For the humans, the gratitude is mutual.

"It's amazing to see the pilots stay in touch with the adoptive homes. They'll get Christmas cards and updates," Quinn says. "It's something that has a ripple effect. ... I think it just enriches peoples lives."

After all, they're good dogs, Brent. And good people too.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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