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A Dog’s Best Friend: Alumnus Uses Flying Skills to Help Rescue Dogs throughout America

February 21, 2012

The bumper sticker that proudly adorns Ted DuPuis' Piper Aztec plane -- "Dog Is My Co-Pilot" -- says everything you need to know about the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology alumnus and his humanitarian flights to find new homes for abandoned animals at shelters throughout North America.

      DuPuis-Helping Dogs
  Finding New Homes For Pets: Ted DuPuis, a 2006 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology mechanical engineering alumnus, founded Cloud Nine Rescue Flights to fly abandoned animals across the country to new homes.  Most of the flights involve dogs and cats.

DuPuis' nonprofit organization, Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, is dedicated to providing charitable flights to transport more animals more efficiently and more reliably over longer distances.  In its first 30 months in the air, the 2006 mechanical engineering graduate has flown more than a thousand pets, mostly dogs, to safety.

"If we don't move the pets we move, they die," DuPuis recently told Boston.com.  "It's that simple."

An avid animal lover, the New York native started in animal rescue by volunteering at a local animal shelter.  Earning his pilot's certificate shortly after leaving Rose-Hulman, DuPuis helped as a volunteer pilot to rescue animals for new homes, originally in small, single-engine planes. 

Seeing that larger numbers of homeless pets needed to be transported further and more reliably than the current organizations at the time were able to provide, he founded Cloud Nine, and now serves as its' president and chief pilot.  The organization operates two aircraft -- a Piper Aztec and a Cessna 310 -- both are "all-weather" piston twins that are capable of operating just about anywhere and in most weather conditions.  He has flown as far as Los Angeles to New York City in one day, as far south as Cozumel, Mexico, and to remote regions of Northern Canada that are only accessible by aircraft (and flown there in the winter).  After last year's Joplin, Mo. tornado, he flew 52 cats to new homes in Seattle, a mission performed in partnership with the ASPCA.

DuPuis' mission takes dogs facing euthanasia at overcrowded shelters to welcoming homes in another region of the country.  A typical flight, costing $2,500 (covering fuel and maintenance), saves 15 to 20 dogs.  The frequency of flights has increased since Pennsylvania-based Cloud Nine started in 2007.

DuPuis-with Plane  
Humanitarian Effort: Ted DuPuiis realized that as a pilot, he could make a difference by moving animals to shelters that could accommodate them.  He also owns and manages DuPuis Aviation.    

DuPuis realized the severity of the pet overpopulation problem after he adopted his first dog, Duke.  The Rottweiler had spent half his life in a local animal shelter.

"He just needed someone to love him," he says.

As a volunteer as a dog trainer at a shelter, DuPuis learned the facts about euthanasia.  "Although I knew it was routine for pets to get put down at shelters, what I didn't realize was that the numbers were in the millions per year," he told Boston.com.  "I didn't realize there were individual shelters putting down 300 pets per week, nor did I realize the disparity between regions that had tremendous overpopulation problems, and regions that didn't have enough healthy, adoptable dogs to meet demand."

DuPuis realized that as a pilot, he could make a difference by moving the animals to shelters that could accommodate them.

Karen Kukla, operator of Upstate New York's Helping Hounds Rescue, told the Syracuse Post-Standard: "The great thing about Ted's transport is that it's quick.  With ground transport, dogs can be in transit for 14 hours or more."

By day, DuPuis, 27, owns and manages DuPuis Aviation (http://dupuisaviation.com/) in the Williamsport, Pa., area.  He provides engineering, flight instruction, and aircraft charter/management services.  He runs his nonprofit by night and on the weekends, assisted by a group of 10 dedicated volunteers. 

"Cloud Nine absorbs all my free time but it is the most rewarding thing I do," DuPuis told The Bark.com.

If You Wish to Help
Learn about Cloud Nine Rescue Flights online at www.cloudninerescueflights.org or contact Ted DuPuis at Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, 259 Irion Drive, Montoursville, PA 17754; 812-243-2585.