Josh Jakobe, Wellsville, is a volunteer pilot for Pilots N Paws, a non-profit organization that transports pets from kill shelters to adoptive families in other parts of the country. Submitted photo

Mark Taylor
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Two of Josh Jakobe’s passions are flying his airplane and helping animals.
Jakobe, who is originally from Gardner but now lives in Wellsville, gets to combine those passions through his involvement in Pilots N Paws, a non-profit organization that transports pets from kill shelters to adoptive families hundreds of miles away.
Jakobe, who works as a systems administrator during the week, said he got involved in Pilots N Paws after his fiance Jessica read about the organization on the Internet.
“She and I have always had a passion for animals and dogs,” he said. “We hate seeing bad things happen to them.”
Jakobe said adoptors often find the dogs on the Internet.
They are willing to save them from being put down, and adopt them into their homes, but are not able to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to bring the animals home.
That is where Pilots N Paws volunteers come in.
“A little dog we flew last weekend had been in an animal shelter in Allen County since August,” Jakobe said. “He was going to be euthanized this week, but someone in Wisconsin decided to adopt him.
“We drove down (to Allen County) and picked him up, then I flew to Burlington, Iowa, where he met up with another pilot and now he is at home with his new family.”
Jakobe recently completed his fifth flight for Pilots N Paws.
He said there are several volunteering pilots throughout the Kansas City metro who have completed hundreds of flights.
“My goal is really just to get the word out there that there are a lot of animal rescues that get contacted for adoptions, but (the animals) have no way to get from point A to B. But there are  options,” Jakobe said. “The first (flight) I did was taking a dog from Tennessee to Nebraska. Time spent: Half a day. Driving might take six and a half hours, but we can fly direct.”
Jakobe said dogs tend to be good passengers.
“It’s almost like they know something good is going to happen for them,” he said. “The little ones like to climb all over, but for the bigger ones, we tether their leash to the back seat and they fall asleep. Sometimes they look out the window. It’s really funny.”
Pilots N Paws volunteers finance rescue flights from their own pockets, although some of  their expenses are tax deductible.
But Jakobe said the money is not an issue with him.
“I am gonna go fly,” he said. “I am going to spend that money anyway, but I would rather spend that $200 and save a dog than putter around and do nothing.”
Jakobe said he wants to make people, especially rescuers and those with animal shelter connections, aware of Pilots N Paws.
More information is available at www.pilotsnpaws.org