Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

(KRON) — Most air travel has been sharply reduced during this health crisis, but not all of it. That includes medical and rescue flights, involving people and animals.

In this week’s edition of Flying Tails, KRON4’s Ken Wayne flies to the Central Valley to rescue two animals that were struggling to survive.

One had an ear infection that left it virtually deaf, and the other had a life threatening illness.

On top of that, Ken was flying in conditions that pushed his own personal safety boundaries to the edge.

The low overcast delayed the planned departure for Porterville to rescue two dogs. One of the first things new pilots learn is the danger of “get-there-itis”, ignoring safety concerns in order to meet a predetermined deadline. 

A few minutes later, the clouds break as expected and we climb up to our cruising altitude for the 90 minute flight to Tulare County.

We touch down in the Central Valley and go meet our two new passengers.

First is a beautiful shepherd mix named Cheddar, who was found at a gas station down the road in Bakersfield.

“He just came walking up to us, like out of nowhere and started petting him,” Josh Bruton said. “He was super friendly and the guy that owned the gas station told us that someone had dumped him off maybe two, three weeks ago.”

What kind of life Cheddar had before he was dumped is anyone’s guess.

His skin seemed extra sensitive, and Josh and his wife Kelsie said Cheddar was deaf.

“He had an ear infection real bad and then we had him tested to see if he could hear at all because it kind of seemed like if you would call to him and he wasn’t looking at you he wouldn’t respond until you actually went up and touched him,” he said.

The other passenger is a little puppy who is suffering from the potentially deadly parvovirus.

We headed to the plane.

Social distancing limits our goodbyes.

“I want to hug you and kiss you. I know it’s so hard with all this.”

At our cruising altitude, we settle in.

Carole gets some dog treats to share with cheddar while the little puppy sleeps in her crate.

On the ground we’re met by the driver from family dog rescue San Francisco.

Almost two hours behind schedule, we finally connect with our contact at Petaluma Airport.

Dogwood Animal Rescue is on hand to take the pup home.

And with that it’s time to say goodbye, with a hope for better days ahead for all of us — people and dogs.

The puppy is doing great. Her name is Gail, named after a volunteer and she’s on medication to treat her parvo and is doing very well. There’s a line of people wanting to adopt her. 

Cheddar is also doing great. He’s getting treatment for his skin condition and is living with a foster family and doing great.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Leave a Reply