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ONLY ON 3: Pilots go to lengths to give shelter dogs new homes

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Pilots go to lengths to give shelter dogs new homes
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The overpopulation of dogs and cats in the United States is a growing problem. With more animals available than potential pet owners, thousands of animals are euthanized every year.

A Wilmington man is teaming up with a nationwide group called Pilots n' Paws to help get more pets adopted, even if that means moving the animals to a safe location himself.

Pack 'em up and move 'em out. This Austrialian shepherd and her puppies were left for dead at an area animal shelter. With overcrowding and more animal surrenders than ever, time was quickly running out.

The mom and her litter were days away from death when an animal rescue group reached out to save them. The only problem? The group is based in Melbourne, FL, about 615 miles away from Wilmington.

"These are tough times, and it's hard to find the money to do something like this, but sometimes you just have to," Doug Oakley said.

This is Oakley's third trip with Pilots n' Paws. The volunteer pilots move adopted dogs to their new homes. Oakley spends his own money and flies his own plane to get the animals to safety.

On this day we ride along for the more than two and a half hour flight to Jessup, GA. Along the way Penelope and her puppies got a bird's eye view of the east coast.

"I guess we do it because the dogs are in such need," Oakley said. "The animals are in such need of help. These are animals that would have been put down, euthanized had somebody not stepped up."

Oakley spent hundreds of dollars on fuel to fly the eight dogs out of harm's way. As a real estate agent on Bald Head Island in a down economy, he says times are tough, but he and other pilots try to focus on the benefit of their efforts.

"We try to put the cost of it aside, though, with the benefit of the need," Oakley said.

Oakley says there is a network of other pilots around the country that also work to move the animals to safety. One met us in Georgia to take penelope and her pups the rest of the way to their new home.

On the ride back to Wilmington, Oakley confessed that it's sad to say goodbye to the pets he moves, but it's important to remember that he did what he could for them.

Oakley says he plans to do more trips in the future as soon as he can get the funding together.

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I commend Mr. Oakley and

I commend Mr. Oakley and other pilots who are relocating these animals to safe homes. While I agree that more needs to be done in requiring pet owners to spay/neuter, the huge population that already exists needs to be taken care of, and I don't think euthanasia is the answer. Too many people view animals as disposible, mindless creatures rather than the intelligent, emotional companions that they are capable of becoming. All life is God-given and precious. Thankfully, there are many people who value animals too!

Let me jump on this one

I love animals too but let's get real here. The problem is neutering and spaying. How many young couples buy pit bulls every day just to be " cool" and then breed them 3 times a year to sell pit bull puppies for a mere 50 bucks and be even " cooler". How many people adopt animals every day just to become hoarders and not take care of the animals. Should we save them all and let them live in squalor and ill-health, or should we let some of them get put to sleep? What about requiring all pet owners to spay or neuter? something needs to be done. There are more dogs and cats than there are people and we are polluting our planet for the next generation. Let's work on a solution together people.

Pilots-n-Paws

I agree that the problem is spay/neutering. I believe all pets should be sterilized to help prevent over population but that still doesn't stop the dogs and cats that are in the shelters for other reasons. That's why there's rescues. I've been contacted many times to pull a dog from a shelter or to help a family rehome their dog. This particular momma and pups are safe. All will be spayed/neutered before being adopted. The homes will be screened before the puppies and momma are placed in them. We need to educate about over population as well as put stricter regulations on the back yard breeders.