Animal air rescue service takes off | Photos

A new national air transport service for rescue animals has taken off. Fly4Paws connects volunteer pilots with rescue animals and organisations and recently completed its first “rescue mission” moving two cattle puppies between Dubbo and Western Australia. It was created by former pilot Thomas Pell, from Queensland.

A “gut feeling” to help animals in need has led former pilot Thomas Prell to create an animal air transport service called Fly4Paws.

The service recently completed its first-ever flight in which the not-for-profit organisation helped two cattle pups on “death row” find new homes.

Australian Working Dog Rescue (AWDR) drove the cattle pups from Dubbo to Sydney airport where they were then taken on as free cargo on a commercial flight to Western Australia.

Mr Prell was able to negotiate fees to be waived at two WA airports and Air BP donated 200 litres of fuel. Two volunteer pilots from Air Australia took the puppies to their new homes.  

For a number of years Mr Prell has been following Australian animal rescue organisations including AWDR, but it wasn’t until he saw the United States animal transportation organisation Pilots N Paws that he knew it was something he wanted to do.

“Upon hearing about Pilots N Paws I realised there was nothing like that here in Australia.

“I just had this gut feeling which lead me to create Fly4Paws,” Mr Prell said.

Fly4Paws launched a few weeks ago and is currently being run and operated manually by Mr Prell.

“It is still in the development stage. I hope to get the website up and running within the next few weeks which will make things easier,” he said.

Mr Prell said Fly4Paws wasn’t a rescue service, but a transport service for animal rescue organisations wishing to help animals in need of rehoming or animals in need of medical attention.

Once the website is up and running it will allow animal rescue organisations to connect with pilots who are happy to donate their services.

“Rescue organisations will be able to upload their request for a flight and pilots can register and see their requests,” he said.

Mr Prell hopes to raise $15,000 to build the website and to pay legal, accounting and insurance fees. He has launched a drive for funds on social media.

“Eventually I foresee four staff to work in administration, marketing and flight co-ordination by next year, he said.

With 32,000 pilots registered in Australia and 670 airfields, Mr Prell said he believes there will be plenty of aviation volunteers happy to take part.

But his vision is to get the major commercial airlines involved and partnering with Fly4Paws.

“We’re negotiating with major carriers to see if they can fly the animals for free, or if we’re able to come up with a partnership with them, then hopefully we could negotiate something,” he said.

If you would like to help the non-for-profit organisation then please go to

Or check out the Facebook page for updates at Fly4Paws - Connecting Volunteer Pilots with Rescue Animals.

You can even follow it on Instagram by searching ‘fly4paws’