Folks driving around with dogs up front is a common sight.
Folks flying at 10,000 feet with a pooch or two?
That’s Dr. Janine Mylett and husband, Mike, on another mercy mission for Pilots N Paws aboard their Piper Archer.
Since spring, they’ve been flying rescue greyhounds from regional Florida tracks monthly to foster homes in cities like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Champaign, Ill., to await adoption.
It’s business, but it’s a pleasure, too.
“The dogs think it’s like riding in the car,” Janine said. “You can see in their eyes how much they love it.”
Some people feel that way about Janine and her husband.
“She has been a lifesaver,” said Brigitte Cooper, president of Joey’s Greyhound Friends, Inc., in Cape Coral. “We could never find a way to get these dogs to the midwest. There were adoption groups, but no transportation available. Without the Myletts, these dogs wouldn’t live.”
According to the National Greyhound Association, before the onset of greyhound adoption and rescue programs, thousands of greyhounds were being euthanized annually at early ages once their racing careers were over.
With the help of greyhound adoption organizations, euthanasia rates have declined.
Suzanne Reep called Janine and her husband guardian angels.
“They volunteer consistently and come a long way, donating their gas and time,” said the president of Joey’s Greyhounds Friends of Ohio, in Cincinnati. “They’re so dedicated. It’s wonderful.”
The Myletts learned to fly a few years ago, but it wasn’t enough.
“While it was fun to go places, fun to go flying, we thought, ‘What about a purpose to it?’” Janine said.
They found one last spring when they went to a Sun-N-Fun Airshow at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport and saw a booth promoting Pilots N Paws.
It’s a non-profit group that pairs pilots with animal rescue organizations to transport critters to safe shelters and new homes.
“Folks described how they had to arrange ground transportation with several different legs to get animals from Point A to Point B. It takes several days and that’s hard on both the animals and the drivers,” Mike Mylett said.
“We can cover a much longer distance in a shorter time,” Janine said. “And what could be better than combining my love of flying with my love of animals.”
According to USA Today, more than 600 pilots have signed on since PNP was started in 2007, transporting well over 1,000 animals since then.
The Myletts have tried to do their part, flying nearly a dozen greyhounds out of state to date. They’ve also brought back different dogs — Great Pyrenees, beagles, etc. — to Florida from Biloxi, Miss., and Knoxville, Tenn.
“We started off doing this not knowing about greyhounds,” Janine said. “I never owned one and always thought they were cold dogs, distant. I was wrong. They’re just the opposite — loving, bright, attentive, don’t bark much and love to be petted and scratched.”
They’re contented passengers, too.
“Dogs come right off the track into our plane and despite the fact the only life they ever knew was on the track, they were so loving and gentle,” she said. “All the flights we’ve done, they’ve been great.”
For the flight to Cincinnati, the Myletts fly 3.5 hours and land east of Atlanta, gas up, walk the dogs, then fly another 3.5 hours to their destination.
Since their goal is to fly as many dogs as possible — four is maximum because of weight limitations — the Myletts removed the plane’s back seats for extra room.
They put each dog in a chest harness fastened with seat belts bolted to the floor.
“So each dog has space to move around, but not too far,” Janine said. “Most sleep, others look out windows, and usually one in every trip wants to come up front, sit in our lap and fly the airplane.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Please include a phone number for verification.