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The plane taxiing at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport Saturday didn’t just have people on board.
Gemini, a blue pit bull recently rescued in New York, was on the plane. He’ll now be fostered by this Hubbard family until he can find a ‘forever home’.
“We just like to help out, we love animals, we love dogs and we want to save as many as we can,” said Cathy Jugenheimer, who will foster Gemini.
The Learning Dog pulls dogs from kill shelters, usually male pit bulls since they’re the least likely to make it out of a pound or shelter alive. But trainers were having a hard time figuring out how they were going to make the 14-hour round trip.
That’s where Pilots N Paws and Bridges to Safety came in to help.
“I just love to do it,” said D.J. O’Neill.
O’Neill, who is from Lake Placid, New York, volunteers his plane and his time, to fly dogs from shelters to homes a couple of times a month. He’s been doing that for about a year, and this is already his fourth time coming by our airport.
“Usually it’s a one-way trip, lot of times, this seems to be a central hub for a lot of dogs, so I’ll fly down from Lake Placid, pick up a dog and bring it back to the northeast somewhere,” said O’Neill.
Saturday’s trip for O’Neill had a dual purpose. He dropped off Gemini, and picked up Sophie, who Bridges for Safety reps had already placed in a New Jersey home.
“I fly for fun anyway, I just love to fly this gives me a reason to fly, and it makes me feel good,” said O’Neill.
All in all, the pair will be in the air for about eight hours. It’s for the love of flying, and for their four-legged friends, that they do it all for free.
“The Learning Dog tried to give them a donation, they wouldn’t accept it,” said Jugenheimer.