WEST CHAZY - When Caryn Collier looked at Betty's photo, her heart melted. The 14-year-old golden retriever mix was facing euthanization by gas chamber at an Ohio animal shelter with adoption as her only way out. That's when Collier stepped in.
Collier had learned about Betty through her friend and co-worker, Judy Belrose.
"I had heard about this shelter in Trumble, Ohio, that had animals that were going to get put down," said Belrose. "I was looking at what animals were available for adoption and Caryn walked by and saw Betty."
"It kind of broke my heart that someone's dog was in there at 14," said Collier.
Though she and her husband, Daniel, already had five dogs of their own - and two cats - Collier wanted to give Betty a home and a chance to live out the rest of her natural life.
Collier and Belrose came across Pilots N Paws, a program that connects those rescuing animals with pilots and plane owners who transport the animals for them at a nominal fee. It wasn't long before Collier was connected with Chris Landers, a stockbroker from Berea, Ohio, who volunteers for Pilots N Paws. Landers, an amateur pilot who has been donating his services to the organization since last fall, said he's involved because of his love for animals.
"It's very rewarding because you know you're doing something good for the dogs and helping out the shelter coordinators," he said. "It's also good for us to keep our flying skills up."
Landers flew the short jaunt from Cleveland to Youngstown to pick up Betty, then flew the 470 nautical miles from Youngstown to Plattsburgh. It was the longest flight Landers has made for Pilots N Paws, he said.
"Usually I don't go that far. The whole trip was 6.8 hours," said Landers. "It was a long day."
What helped was Betty's ability to handle the long trip without so much as a bark or a howl as she remained secured in her traveling crate, said Landers.
"She was a good passenger," said Landers. "She was very quiet. We even had to go around a few thunderstorms along the way."
And, when the connection between Betty and her new owner was made, it was all worth it, said Landers.
"It was just nice knowing she's going to be around for a few years longer," he said.
"The fact that he would do that, giving up his time and money to do that, is great," said Collier.
So far, Betty is adjusting well to her new home and her new family - human, canine and feline.
"She doesn't seem to mind the other dogs much and they don't seem to mind her," Collier said, laughing.
Belrose, who is a member of the board of directors for the Elmore SPCA, a no-kill animal shelter in the town Peru, said she was glad to see Betty receive a new home. And, while she understands how some may question her encouragement of an adoption from another shelter, even one out-of-state, she said there's one thing to keep in mind.
"It's not a competition," she said. "Every animal needs a home. It doesn't matter if it gets adopted from our facility or somebody else's. I'd just like to see them all go into good homes."
For more information about Pilots N Paws, visit the organization's Web site at www.pilotsnpaws.org or call Belrose at 637-2204.