Pilot Adopts Dog After Hurricane Rescue Mission

By: Nathan Grant

After working to fly dogs to their forever homes, Derek Harbaugh finally found a dog he could not get enough of.

Derek Harbaugh is a pilot for Wings of Rescue. He works to fly dogs in order to find them the best possible forever home.

After meeting many different dogs, Harbaugh had no particular attachment that stood out more than another – until Pinky.

Image Credit: Jill Manahan

When the Island of St. John was hit by Hurricane Irma, Wings of Rescue came to take dogs from the island and get them brought to safety. While stopping for fuel and a swap of crew members in Fort Lauderdale, Harbaugh met Pinky.

“She stared at me as I climbed into the cockpit and that’s where it all started,” Harbaugh told The Dodo. “Once we arrived at our cruising altitude the other pilot took over and I went into the back to check on Pinky. I stuck my fingers in the crate through the door and she leaned up against the door and my fingers with all her weight. I opened the crate and she crawled into my lap and buried her head in my hands. After a couple minutes, her tail began to wag and we hung out for a little while before it was time for her to go back into her crate.”

Image Credit: Derek Harbaugh

Upon landing in New Hampshire, Harbaugh was struggling to say goodbye to Pinky. Even as the truck was boarding for Last Hope K9 Rescue, he had to pet her once more before she departed. Harbaugh felt a connection to Pinky he was not ready to let go of.

“It wasn’t until I watched her truck drive away that I realized I was going to miss her,” Harbaugh said. “She stood out from all of the previous pets that I had met on my previous flights.”

Harbaugh knew what he had to do – find Pinky and adopt her!

Image Credit: Derek Harbaugh

“I decided to get in touch with Ric Browde (with Wings of Rescue) and ask how difficult it would be to track down a pet that was dropped off the night before,” Harbaugh said. “He asked for her name and said he’d do some checking. That Friday, I got a call from Ric and he told me that he found her and that the shelter agreed to let me adopt her.”

Image Credit: Derek Harbaugh

The K9 Rescue was more than happy to hear the pilot had grown so interested in her adoption. While Pinky was staying in a foster home with Marcia Birnbaum, Harbaugh worked tirelessly to bring her home. He was assisted by Mission: Miracle K9 Rescue Inc., the group able to coordinate a flight for Pinky to see Harbaugh.

Image Credit: Derek Harbaugh

Once a flight had been arranged, Jessica Teng drove Pinky to the airport.

Image Credit: Jessica Teng

“One of our crew flew into Fort Lauderdale out of Saint Croix and I continued that flight into Worcester, which is where Pinky and I were reunited after unloading almost 200 more pets,” Harbaugh said.

When Pinky saw Harbaugh, the connection was clear.

Image Credit: Jessica Teng

While flying back to Fort Lauderdale with Harbaugh, Pinky was able to spread out. No other dogs were on the plane!

Image Credit: Jessica Teng

After spending a few days in a hotel together, the two went back to their forever home in Texas.

Now that the two are together, it’s clear that a better match could not be made. Harbaugh and Pinky are so happy together!

Image Credit: Sarah Slade

Source: The Dodo

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