In addition to feeding hungry travelers, pilots and locals for the past decade, Sugar Buns Airport Cafe, a restaurant located in the Easton Airport, has also served an important role hosting welcome receptions to waves of displaced dogs on their way to new homes. Susan Leonard, the owner of Sugar Buns, is a staunch supporter of a program called Pilots N Paws, which transports dogs from high kill shelters to rescue groups.
On a recent Sunday, Susan was busy pouring bowls of ice water for two puppies stopping over in Easton from North Carolina. She greeted the four-legged pups as well as the pilot, Andrew Zeneski, co-pilot, Anne Zeneski, and junior co-pilot, Abigail, a six-pound rescue dog dressed to the nines. Abigail flies on all the flights to transport homeless dogs and often tries to comfort the canine passengers.
The layover in Easton is well planned. Pilots N Paws volunteers often volunteer for just one leg of a trip and meet other volunteers to complete an animal’s journey. The Zeneskis agree that Easton is a great meeting spot for the volunteer pilots and Sugar Buns is sure to serve a great meal. So says Anne, “I love stopping at Sugar Buns. It’s [Easton] such a pretty place, looking at all the waterfront homes on our way over. Then we eat at Sugar Buns, which is delicious, and I rave about it to all the other pilots. And seeing Susan, it’s like a family gathering.”
On this day, the Zeneskis were meeting Pilot Glenn Nevola from New Jersey. The puppies got to stretch and play before being whisked off for the second leg of their journey. People in New Jersey were anxious to meet their new family members, and Glenn wanted to avoid any deteriorating weather, so the puppy transfer isn’t delayed. The puppies were transported in crates that are securely strapped in to the back of the planes. Diners at Sugar Buns can watch the transfer as dogs on the tarmac get loaded into the planes.
Thousands of volunteer pilots across the country fly animals to safety, based on requests from shelters. A shelter and a rescue group make their arrangements, then the request goes out online to volunteer pilots for transport. It’s up to the pilots to make the travel arrangements. For animal-loving pilots, Pilots N Paws is perfect for anyone looking for hours in the air or for a reason to travel to new destinations.
The website serves as the conduit between various pilots able to help in the transport. Anne, who is a former airline attendant, loves hearing about the animal adoption stories that she and her husband have helped facilitate. There was Jack the Wing Walker, who kept walking onto the airplane’s wing before flight. He got adopted and was in his new owner’s wedding party. The Zeneski’s dog, Abigail, was a rescue as well and currently serves as a model for Anne’s new venture, called Gate Nine Boutique. The proceeds from the boutique go toward saving more dogs, Anne explains. Visit gatenineboutique.com to view the designer dog clothing, which includes a fashion line for junior co-pilots such as Abigail.
This summer has been a busy for the Zeneski family, flying to Easton many times with rescue pups. Watching the puppies romp and play during their brief layover, one has to ponder about how very different their fate could have been if it weren’t for the kind-hearted, flying volunteers. To make a donation to Pilots N Paws, visit Sugar Buns Airport Café at the Easton Airport Terminal. For more information about Pilots N Paws, visit pilotsnpaws.org.