Canine Companions Puppies Transported by Volunteer Pilots

Eight-week-old future assistance dogs fly to their volunteer puppy raisers on private planes. a yellow Canine Companions puppy sits with a volunteer pilot in the cockpit of his plane

While the coronavirus pandemic is limiting flights for many, it hasn't stopped national non-profit Canine Companions for Independence from transporting its future assistance dog puppies. Volunteer pilots have made it possible for some adorable Canine Companions puppies to fly more luxuriously than most of us ever will - on private planes.

Canine Companions, the nation's leading provider of free assistance dogs to people with disabilities, typically relies on commercial airlines to transport young puppies to their volunteer puppy raisers across the country who provide care for them and begin their important training. When the coronavirus pandemic made that increasingly difficult, Canine Companions looked to private pilots for help, and they stepped up in a big way.

Canine Companions supporters and private pilots Martyn Lewis and Josh Hochberg volunteer with a nonprofit organization that connects volunteer pilots and plane owners with animal groups that need animal transportation. Now, they're offering Canine Companions their services in a time of need, while recruiting other pilots to help out as well. Sonoma County business owner and pilot Jeff Stewart Dave Navarre, another pilot who is familiar with Canine Companions' mission since he is friends with a puppy raiser and a graduate, offered to help as well.

So far, Lewis, Hochberg, Stewart, Navarre and others have flown over 100 Canine Companions puppies from Northern California's Sonoma Jet Center, near the nonprofit's National Headquarters, to their volunteer puppy raisers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California. These generous private pilots will continue to transport puppies for Canine Companions as this pandemic continues.

Lewis, who has flown many dogs himself, shares, "It combines two of my greatest passions, flying and dogs." He continues, "There is nothing better in the world than delivering a puppy to their new person. The impact the dog has on its' future person is incredible," says Lewis.

While ensuring social distancing and other CDC guidelines are met, Canine Companions is still able to deliver their puppies to their puppy raisers to care for them and begin their important training. "We are so grateful to Martyn, Josh, Dave and all the pilots, staff and volunteers who are helping our puppies get to their volunteer puppy raisers during this unprecedented time," says Canine Companions CEO Paige Mazzoni. "At times like these, it is wonderful to see the goodness and kindness in people who want to help however they can," Mazzoni adds.

Disability doesn't stop in times of crisis, and Canine Companions still has over 400 people waiting to be placed with an expertly trained assistance dog. Even in these uncertain times, the Canine Companions mission is still in motion. Generous volunteers and supporters are crucial to helping the puppies of today become the assistance dogs of tomorrow. Learn how you can give a dog a job at cci.org.


Check out the stories below about our puppies flying with volunteer pilots!*

Insider - Pilots are volunteering to fly puppies across the nation on private planes to help them start their training as future service dogs
Press Democrat Santa Rosa, CA - Canine Companions for Independence volunteer pilots take off to deliver future service dogs to their trainers
ABC Bay Area, CA - 29 puppies leave Santa Rosa to train to become canine companions during COVID-19 pandemic
KXLY Spokane, WA - Puppies flown to Spokane will eventually help those with disabilities
KIVI Boise, ID - Private pilots fly "miracles in the making" to Idaho
KRTV Great Falls, MT - Three puppies arrive in Great Falls to be trained as Canine Companions
CBS Denver, CO - Future assistance dogs take private plane to Colorado.
NBC Dallas, TX - Special service dog puppies arrive by plane at Love Field
CBS Phoenix, AZ - Canine Companions puppies flew in style from California to Arizona
Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, NM - Pilot delivers adorable yellow labs to puppy raisers

*Please be aware that by clicking the links to these stories, you are visiting sites that are not managed by Canine Companions. Website security, accessibility and privacy policies may be different than Canine Companions policies. Please read their policies closely.