East Tennessee canines fly north to new homes

By: Mike McCarthy Email
By: Mike McCarthy Email

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) – An East Tennessee pilot spent part of his weekend taking off to save as many animals as he could.

Jon Wehrenberg flew four dogs to new northern homes early Sunday morning, which likely saved the lives of the quartet of former pound puppies.

The first canine board the small plane was Baby, a pit-bull Connie Smith helped rescue from starvation and disease.

“She touched my heart,” Smith said. “It was hard to let her go this time.”

Baby needed a good home, which is where Wehrenberg appeared like an angel sporting metal wings and a propeller.

"I'm taking four dogs that would've been euthanized up to foster houses or rescues," he said.

Seeing he could provide a much needed service, Wehrenberg began his airborne life-line just this year. So far the Knoxville resident has flown 40 dogs for free. Sunday’s first class canines all came from the Young-Williams Animal Shelter, and had one way tickets to either Indiana or New York.

Typically animal rescues take place on the ground and involve multiple drivers, drop-offs, and destinations, but Wehrenberg’s puppy approved prop plane streamlines the process.

"When there is less stress on the animal, they'll be much calmer and travel much easier," said Tim Adams, director of Young-Williams.

The passenger list could be longer, because the shelter is already near capacity and has to euthanize about 70-percent of its animals a year.

“I’d like more pilots to volunteer,” said Wehrenberg, hoping more dogs like Baby can find good homes.

If you want to become a volunteer pilot, you can call Young-Williams at (865) 215-6599 or click on the link below.

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