Editorial: Flights to Furever rocking it

The numbers are staggering. Since 2013, when Flights to Furever took a single abandoned puppy on a flight to a new home in New York, the Uvalde organization has saved 1,000 dogs from being put to death. We think that effort deserves not only our gratitude but also our continued support.

Flights to Furever is the brainchild of Heather Stunkel. It was she and her husband who flew the puppy named Tessa to New York during a trip to visit the couple’s family. After that, the number of animals being transported to the northeast continued to increase until the later part of 2018 when the escalating cost of airline cargo forced the group to switch to ground transportation.

Last Friday, volunteers loaded an Enterprise rental van with more than 60 dogs and headed cross-country to Brownsville, Tennessee, the halfway point between Uvalde and the New York-based rescue organization. It was that run that marked 1,000 dogs rescued in Uvalde.

The first ground transport was completed in November of 2018, and in 2019 volunteers drove 36,000 miles while rescuing a record number of 481 dogs. Last Friday, volunteers loaded an Enterprise rental van with more than 60 dogs and headed cross-country to Brownsville, Tennessee, the halfway point between Uvalde and the New York-based rescue organization. It was that run that marked 1,000 dogs rescued in Uvalde.

With 25 volunteers fulfilling roles that include fostering dogs, helping with transports and raising money through bake sales, yard sales and painting fundraisers, Flights to Furever appears to be a finely-oiled machine. But without the oil – or in this case funding – everything grinds to a halt. It takes between $1,500 and $2,500 per run (which have been occurring monthly) to cover expenses on both ends of the trip.

Flights to Furever became affiliated with the Humane Society of Uvalde in 2018, and HSU board member Al Ortiz shared the sentiments of his group in a story that appeared in last Thursday’s newspaper.

“I cannot emphasize enough the positive impact that Heather has made on both Uvalde and the Humane Society. Her leadership, true passion for animal welfare and the undying dedication of her volunteers formulate a system that overproduces when compared to bigger cities with similar programs.”

Stunkel and her dedicated volunteers have indeed achieved something outstanding. It would have been far easier to allow the strays to be put down. The rest of us might not have known the difference, but now that we do, how can we not cheer (and support) the difference these caring people have made?



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