TODAY   |  October 13, 2012

Pilots and paws: Group saves lives of unwanted pets

With no home, and no one locally willing to adopt, some unwanted cuddle canines would be put to death if not for a team of aviators who connect unwanted animals with those who want a dog. “If it fits, I’ll fly it,” pilot Jeff Bennett said. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to a story sure to warm the hearts of animal lovers . it's about an organization of private pilots that takes puppies and other animals from overcrowded shelters to new lives and new homes. here's nbc's kerry sanders .

>> reporter: today it's florida. tomorrow another rural american town. but always there are dogs. adorable puppies rescued from so called kill shelters. with no home and no one locally willing to adopt these cuddly canines would be put to death were it not for a team of aviators who connect unwanted animals with those who want a dog. the pilots n paws organization photographs each one, loads them up, and then -- it's off.

>> and we're airborne.

>> reporter: piloting this load of 24 puppies to the urban sprawl of lakeland, florida today , jeff bennett .

>> they usually fall asleep so you don't know they're there.

>> kind of like a baby in a car.

>> pretty much.

>> just like a baby in a car.

>> reporter: less than two hours in the air and the dogs are back on the ground. a last-minute flight that jeff says was the only option.

>> you're going to get a home quick.

>> all these dogs would have been euthanized had we not taken them out.

>> reporter: and so you've rescued --

>> >> with today's transport 1,119.

>> reporter: sometimes the mission grows.

>> i've done pot belly pig . done falcons. rats, rabbits, snakes, tortoises.

>> reporter: so you're all species airways.

>> that's it. if it fits, i'll fly it.

>> reporter: pilots n paws is one of those organizations that wants to go out of business. the problem is they know tomorrow they'll be needed again.

>> this is a happy ending . this is the happy ending and the new beginning. this is day one of a new life.

>> reporter: a doggie underground in our nation's airways. kerry sanders , nbc news, lakeland, florida.