Puppies, Planes & Pilots

A young man holds two puppies in yellow puppy vests and stands in front of his small airplaneSince the beginning of the pandemic, Canine Companions has relied heavily on volunteer pilots to transport our puppies to their volunteer puppy raisers. Recently, Canine Companions volunteer breeder caretakers and puppy raisers who are also pilots have stepped up their support to fly puppies to their volunteer raisers across the country! 

Pilot Owen Leipelt, who is 21 years old, transported puppies to their volunteer puppy raisers in Southern California. The Canine Companions mission is close to Owen’s heart since his family has been raising puppies for years. Owen shares, “It was so rewarding bringing the puppies to their raisers since I know what that excitement feels like firsthand, and also know the incredible work they go on to do.” 

Not long after, volunteer puppy raisers, breeder caretakers and donors David and Kenny Tuckerman flew puppies, including two born in their home, to excited puppy raisers in Arizona. David humbly shares, “This was a special opportunity for us to personally deliver the puppies we raised from birth.” 

We’d like to recognize all our volunteer pilots, including Martyn Lewis and Josh Hochberg, who helped us start our program and continue to contribute to its growing success. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering to transport our future service dogs, visit canine.org/aviationpartners for more information.