An Army veteran learned how to fly and bought his own plane so he could rescue hundreds of cats and dogs from kill shelters.

Paul Steklenski, 45, from Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, forked out $65,000 (£50,000) for an aircraft which he fills with crates of unloved animals facing euthanasia.

The tank operator-turned-IT expert realised he wanted to save animals after adopting a homeless dog from a rescue centre.

At first, Mr Steklenski considered driving to kill shelters in the US and transporting the canines elsewhere by road to help them find owners.But he knew he would be able to give dozens more abandoned pets new lives if he transported them in another way.

He had coincidentally started learning how to fly in 2013 as a hobby, but realised at the same time that he wanted to rescue animals, so went on to get his licence.

Then in May 2015 he set up Flying Fur Animal Rescue and says he's single-handedly saved 742 animals since then, many which were neglected or abused. In February the US Army ex-serviceman of eight years - an SPC who trained troops in Kentucky - even bought his own plane to help with the task.

'Seeing the dogs at the shelter was heartbreaking. It was horrible to think that there were so many animals being euthanised because they're stuck in a certain area.

'The further south you go the more there is a pet overpopulation problem. It is distressing.

'I realised I could help make a difference by going down there, picking them up and taking them to other shelters.

'The plane is a tool that allows me to do a lot in a day that I couldn't do with a bus.

'It's an extremely emotional job but it's very rewarding.'

Mr Steklenski, who lives with his wife, fellow IT expert Michelle, 46, takes off a day or a half day once a month to fly to shelters, where he picks up some cats as well as dogs.

The caring pilot, who went on to adopt a second dog himself, Layla, now loads as many dogs and cats as he can squeeze onboard in one go - sometimes up to 23 in one trip. He flies to North Carolina and takes them to shelters in other states where there's a better chance they'll be adopted.

But though it's a battle finding the funds, he says actually making the cross-country trip with dozens of dogs is straightforward. Mr Steklenski, who does not have children, said: 'Once the engine starts up they fall asleep or will stay awake and look out of the windows.

Responses to "Army veteran flies across America to save more than 700 pets from kill shelters"

  1. Anonymous says:

    OK, that is very very nice but if he makes what every veteran makes, how come we are always complaining that they are living on the streets with no money. What is up with that?

  2. Erinout says:

    What a onderful couple of caring human beingsGreat job you are doing, keep up the good works!

  3. Unknown says:

    Thank you for your kindness and compassion. The world loves you for it. Diana

  4. Sukawka says:

    God bless him.

  5. Sheri says:

    He doesn't make what "every other veteran" makes. Veteran salaries are as diverse as the regular population. He is an IT professional. Many vets are homeless or under-employed as they cannot transfer their skill-set from military to civilian when they are discharged, not to mention that combat veterans may have a host of other challenges when returning to civilian life. Do some research. This is a wonderful story. Or we can shift our focus to the hardships vets endure upon discharge. Both can exist at the same time.

  6. Unknown says:

    I'd like to know how to help I'd love to have a rescue and save all the pups I'd like to know more please. Get ahold of me as I'm a hufew dog lover but will save kitties as well I want so bad. Dogs are my heart

  7. Unknown says:

    I'm the unknown. Marcy Welch please contact me. I'm a huge animal liver. Dog kisses are the best

  8. Unknown says:

    Your amazing thank you so muchxx

  9. Polana says:

    Two times my hero,
    1) US military veteran and 2) saves animals!!!
    THANK YOU!!!!

  10. In response to "Anonymous" -- If I was going to make a total a$$hole remark like that, I wouldn't have the guts to sign my name to it either.

  11. Unknown says:

    Thank you. This is amazing.

  12. Hope says:

    Thank you To Paul & his wife! To those that want to help, please volunteer with local rescues. I volunteer transport by car and love it! More help is always needed.

  13. Unknown says:

    Wow................Ya gotta love this guy........A special soul.

  14. Bless you my brother - I respect all you do for the animals

  15. Unknown says:

    I want onexsobcan you bring me onecto illinois

  16. Anu says:

    The 1st comment who was talking about veteran's is a real jerk!

  17. Anonymous says:

    It makes no sense to keep every pet animal alive there are way to many of them now and that attitude will result in millions more of them. Millions of pounds of food and animal waste every year. Tens of millions of dollars spent on them instead of helping people. I once reply ed to a similar post that I spent money on needy people not pets and got ^(*(&(*&% from you idiotic people.

  18. Unknown says:

    I salute you. You are a truly wonderful person. Served your country and saves animals. You are my hero!

  19. Where do you fly to? What states? Cities? I would love to adopt one of your pups. Do you take them all to other shelters ?

  20. Unknown says:

    What a wonderful job you are doing and certainly unconditionally rewarding... There is a site who rescues dogs and cats from Afghanistan. The site is called Nowzad on face book.. Just put that word in an the site comes up...

  21. Gypsy says:

    To Paul Steklenski, God bless you and keep you.

  22. You're wonderful!

  23. Diane

    To anonymous who wrote there are too any animals,too much food, etc. I really believe you are misinformed. Animals have a soul. We are obliged to help them also. Have a heart.

  24. Unknown says:

    Thank you and God Bless him....a true Flying Angel. I give my time as volunteer in our small Animal Shelter (no-kill), and we have a good program to assist our dogs and cats find their forever home. It is heartwarming to know what a difference this Paul and his wife have made.

  25. Barbara says:

    God bless you for the wonderful job you do. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. How can I donate?

  26. Unknown says:

    Thank you for your service to our country.Thank you for saving all these beautiful souls. If you are ever in AZ we would be happy to fill your plane with dogs that need rescuing. God Bless you & thank you!

  27. Diana says:

    You are a hero to the country and these sentient beings. And to this "Anonymous" person who is posting- you are truly cowardly and repulsive.

  28. AMRRescue says:

    Spay and neuter so there are fewer animals in need of homes. Dr. Jeff makes sure all animals who come to him are. More vets who offer low cost spay and neuter would help reduce unwanted kittens and puppies.

  29. Jason says:

    To the uniformed poster above talking about keeping the pets, there is a process here. Every rescue must be neutered. This actually helps the population immensely. Get informed before you blab. More idiocracy in America.

  30. to: ANONYMOUS

    Perhaps you are unable to read. The man has a job, probably something you don't have. That's how he has the money. He also undoubtedly does this rather than golf, skiing, or other expensive hobbies. Like drinking. You are a coward to post anonymously.

  31. Unknown says:

    Paul, I too am a VET (retired SCPO) Please contact me at I want to help financially and in any other way I can.

  32. Kimberly says:

    Please no one else give any energy into responding to Anonymous. This is a uneducated heartless individual who is looking for attention. Lets focus instead on what a wonderful thing it is this family is doing for animals. God bless him and I am grateful for knowing theres people out there that know the animals lives matter. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  33. MsLark says:

    I would love to have the white dog! Such a sweet face. ❤️

  34. Unknown says:

    The smile on your face as you hold these dogs says it all. Well done!

  35. The man of my dreams!!!! Lucky puppies!!

  36. Unknown says:

    You and your wife are awesome souls! Thank you so much for helping all these animals!

  37. Anonymous says:

    wow amazing. god bless you...more and more blesssings to you, your family and all the dogs that you rescued... more power

  38. Sandra says:

    This is a beautiful story ,this man is an earth angel, and to the Anonymous person that keeps leaving negative comments , After all the criticising you are doing I hope you are doing something to help the homeless veterans ,I’m not just sitting on here being a keyboard warrior who isn’t even brave enough to put their name to the comment

  39. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! You must be an angel sent from Heaven. God bless you your are an amazing person

  40. Unknown says:

    Thank you very much, Paul, for the incredibly wonderful work you are doing for these animals. You are the best. I hope all of these cats and dogs will be adopted into warm, loving homes and have great lives.

  41. Anonymous says:

    For the individual who says we shouldn't try to save every animal because of overpopulation, here's a suggestion. With over 7 billion human beings on this planet, we're rapidly approaching overpopulation. How about we start with getting rid of you. Sound good? I am a veteran, too, and do not believe in violence. Yes, euthanising perfectly healthy animals is IMO a form of violence. Suggesting we start with getting rid of you was merely to drive a point home. Thank you!

  42. Bea says:

    What a beautiful man with a huge heart! Thank you!

  43. Lisa says:

    What a wonderful selfless act of compassion. This man is my hero! I want to donate toward the cost he took upon himself. God Bless this man.

  44. There are 2 nasty comments ignorant comments on this thread, that would, if enacted, would be to the demise of these wonderful DEFENSELESS animals. They're like children without a voice... dependent on those of us who understand and practice TRUE HUMANITY, MORAL & ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY, AND COMPASSION. We all have our own "CAUSES" ... and that's what makes the world go around. If is it doesn't fit in to your little Box ... Oh well. Your comments say volumes about who you are as a human being. Selfish and small minded towards a species that, more often than not, understand what what UNCONDITIONAL LOVE ACTUALLY IS. Their actions never come from malice. Perhaps you wouldn't be so miserable if you open your eyes to a higher and greater consciousness. God doesn't just put you in this earth. You need to wake up and know what higher awareness is all about.

  45. Unknown says:

    Where can I send a donation.I would love to do a fundraiser

  46. Unknown says:

    Where can I send a donation. I would love to do a fundraiser Thank you Linda Abromovitz

  47. buzz says:

    Good man, Paul. Semper Fi from and old Marine vet. My wife and gave 30 years to saving sick & injured birds with a federal and state license. We worked full time and every night I spent 6 to 7 hours giving medicaion, doing leg and wing therapy, sifting the shredded corn cob on the floor, cleaning the nest boxes, etc and we saved a lot of birds. I fought with Fish & Wildlife all the time. What a bunch of jerks they were and didn't giev a dman about the creatures. They were not fond of me in particular because I got senators and congessmen to back my complaints against them. Each life counts and I had 5 different people chastize me for not working with children over animals. I would then list my extensive work with kids of all colors and stipes and then ask them what work t hey did with kids and not one of the 5 had ever lifted a finger to help children. But they sure had a lot of worthless advise about my life. Through the years I caught few young men trying to harm birds and told them if they made another move toward them I would rearrange their personality. They were all touch against defenseless creatures, but against an old man willing to fight, they tucked their tails between their legs and took a hike. What a world!!!! Thanks for what you do. buzz

  48. neache says:

    My deepest respect for what you do for those that cannot speak for themselves. Bless you brother, I salute you .

  49. RA says:

    I Want to know how to donate to his foundasion I am a Scottish ex vet and in England i get treated like shite am ex 1st Battilion SCOTS GUARDS

  50. Unknown says:

    Thank you! You're a hero ..... a hero with wings!

  51. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do. How wonderful.

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