Shadyside Inn president offers dog rescue, adoption aid

September 15, 2018
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Volunteers with Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team have helped to bring more than 7,000 animals out of dire situations.

Jonathan Plesset’s love of dogs is an integral part of both his personal and professional life.

As president/CEO of Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel in Pittsburgh, he oversees a facility that goes above and beyond the norm in being pet-friendly, with four-footed guests receiving goodie bags upon check-in and having access to an on-site dog park.

Shadyside Inn also is sponsoring a program that encourages guests to become dog owners themselves, if they aren’t already.

Guests who stay for five or more nights are eligible for a credit of up to $250 toward the adoption of a shelter pet through Dec 31.

There are some restrictions on the program.

• Stays must be booked on the inn’s website or through a staff member, not through a third-party website.

• Guests must complete a pre-adoption form at the hotel during the stay. They then will have 30 days after checkout to initiate the adoption process with a shelter of their choice. The shelter does not have to be in the Pittsburgh area.

• The shelter must be a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit in good standing with local regulating authorities.

• The adoption process will be conducted by the local shelter, and the adopting individual or family must pass its background check.

• The guest will have 60 days to complete the adoption once the application is submitted.

Plesset also helps to rescue animals in dire straits from around the country as co-founder of the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team (PAART).

Flying to the rescue

PAART was founded in 2006 by Plesset and his friend Brad Childs, executive vice president of Eyetique, a group of Pittsburgh-area vision centers.

As new airplane pilots, the two were interested in using their flying skills for a charitable purpose, according to the PAART website.

Their first “client” was a 90-pound bulldog named Monte who needed a lift to a new home in Philadelphia.

Since then, PAART has helped in the rescue of more than 7,000 animals facing euthanasia in underfunded shelters, homeless due to natural disasters or being removed from abusive situations.

From two guys and a plane, the organization has grown to include additional staff members, more than 200 volunteers and three transport vans.

The organization will effect rescues in most states east of the Mississippi River, along with Louisiana and Texas.

Most often, animals are transported from overcrowded shelters to no-kill shelters in larger population areas, where the likelihood of adoption will be greater.

The PAART website contains stories of recent rescues, including one in which 52 dogs were taken via vans from the Morgan County and Wolfe County animal shelters in Kentucky to be transported to Pittsburgh, where Cross Your Paws Rescue, Paws Across Pittsburgh and Pals4Pets Rescue Inc. were willing to take charge of the animals.

The roles that both Shadyside Inn and PAART play in securing happy outcomes for homeless animals is a little bit of serendipity for Plesset.

“Everyday there are animals waiting for our rescue teams to arrive and give them the second chance they need. Our hotel guests can now play a PAART in completing their story by adopting one of these rescues into their homes,” he said in a recent release.

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