HAWTHORNE, Calif .– Talk about flying in the friendly sky.
About once a week Julian Javor drops off his dog, Shadow, at Hawthorne Airport and hits the tarmac.
A property manager by day, Javor has always dreamed of being an airline pilot. So, a few years ago, he got his license and his childhood dream took off.
âI dreamed of being the pilot who greets passengers when they get off the plane and tells them to have a good vacation,â Javor said, âand to be proud to be the person who flew this plane. and got them where they needed to go. “
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He never had the opportunity to fly an airliner. But passengers, he has plenty. Javor doesn’t just pilot them, he saves them.
âI found a way to have a much deeper impact on people’s lives,â he said.
Javor is the founder of Pet Rescue Pilots, a non-profit organization that collects animals from slaughter shelters in remote areas and takes them to Los Angeles, where their chances of being adopted are exponentially higher. It’s basically a one-man organization paid out of Javor’s pocket and with whatever donations he can get.
About 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year, according to the ASPCA. So far, Javor has carried out 72 such thefts, saving a total of 357 dogs, 113 cats and a goat.
On a hot March morning, Javor flew to Bakersfield to retrieve eight dogs from a pound in a small town about 200 miles northwest of LA. And like any good pilot, the first thing he does is greet his passengers.
âTransportation can be stressful for dogs, so we try to remove it as much as possible by just creating a short link before we put them on the plane,â he said.
A safer place, a local Kern County rescue group, had them all packed and ready for their flight.
“I know they are happy to have been rescued,” said director Sheila Powelson. “They were closed when we first took them out of the shelter and have since reopened.”
Javor carefully checks each dog and shows them their seats.
Then it’s time to go.
At 8 years old, his dream was to welcome his passengers at their destination. Now, as an adult, he does just that.
âHopefully the ride is a smooth one here, we should have you on the ground in about five minutes,â Javor said through his headphones in his best pilot’s voice. âThank you for choosing Pet Rescue Pilots again. “
The dogs are picked up by Nancy Jimeno, founder of Ozzie and his friends, a local Rowland Heights animal rescue group, who says they will each find their old home.
âSome dogs take years to find a home,â Jimeno said. âFortunately, these dogs are small enough that they don’t stay in our facility for more than two months. “
Javor’s reception at the airport is Shadow, who knows exactly what’s going on since she was one of his passengers.
After a long flight, Javor and Shadow return home, having made the skies a little friendlier and given eight dogs a new “leash” in life.
To adopt one of the dogs in this story, see below or contact Ozzie and Friends at 323-270-2009.