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The coronavirus pandemic has brought many aspects of life as we know it to a grinding halt, including air travel, which affects not just ordinary travelers, but those for whom getting to another location is crucial for their jobs. Canine Companions for Independence provides service dogs to people with disabilities free of charge, and the organization normally relies on commercial flights to transport dogs from its base in Santa Rosa, California to temporary homes across the country, where volunteers train them to become service animals.
In the face of a major lack of available commercial flights in recent months, volunteer pilots have stepped up to bring 108 puppies to their trainers’ homes in southern California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Texas.
Martyn Lewis, Josh Hochberg and Jeff Stewart are three private pilots who fly out of an airport in Sonoma, California and have volunteered to help these dogs get to their first step in their vocations as assistance animals for people with disabilities.
“Not only are they giving their plane, but their time, their fuel,” Michelle Williams, public relations and marketing coordinator at Canine Companions for Independence, told Insider. “They’re going out for full days … it’s just incredible.”
Get a gander at these cute pups on their journey in these photos posted to Instagram by the organization on May 14:
“Yesterday, volunteer pilots flew 29 adorable @ccicanine puppies to their volunteer puppy raisers around the country to start their journey to become assistance dogs for people with disabilities,” the caption reads.
“As a pilot, it makes you feel good to be on a mission, rather than just flying around,” Martyn Lewis told Press Democrat of his volunteer gig.
He says if they get a chance to burn off some energy before boarding the plane, the pups usually snooze during the flight. They might look a bit like this pile of puppy love, also posted to Instagram by Canine Companions for Independence:
“We are so grateful to Martyn and to all the pilots, staff and volunteers who are helping our puppies to get to their volunteer puppy raisers during this unprecedented time,” Canine Companions CEO Paige Mazzoni said in a statement. “At times like these, it is wonderful to see the goodness and kindness in people who want to help however they can.”