Latest News

Let’s go fly a dog – Katie’s journey to her furever home

Just before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, a small Piper Archer aircraft touched down on the tarmac at Hart Field at the Morgantown Municipal Airport.

Nervously waiting on the runway was Katie, a 5-year-old boxer who was surrendered to the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center (MCCAC) by her previous owners.  

She didn’t know it yet, but Katie was on her way to her new home and she would be riding in style.

Katie had her world turned upside down when she was brought to MCCAC.  From the beginning of her stay at the center, Katie was in shock and visibly scared, volunteers said. Videos taken show her hind legs shaking in fear, unsure of her surroundings.  

Katie had very little interest shown from potential adopters, but Dana Johnson, director of MCCAC, said they were not giving up.  Then Debra Tennant from nonprofit group Mountaineers for Mutts (M4M) stepped in to help.

“Mountaineers for Mutts is amazing,” Johnson said.  “They don’t get enough credit.  Debra comes to the shelter and does videos of the dogs and sends them to her network of rescues across the country.  They have pulled hundreds of dogs from me and save a lot lives.”

Tennant said M4M often steps in to help prevent local shelters from having to euthanize animals due to overcrowding and even transports animals in need to other rescues.  Since 2014, they have worked to save well over 300 animals a year.

Tennant said she worked up a “dating profile” with videos of Katie and soon found Amy Lusty, who works with a rescue partner in Michigan that was willing to bring Katie on board.

“I mean, the rest is history,” Johnson said.  “She put it out there and someone said ‘I’m going to give Katie a try.’ ”

Getting Katie to Michigan would take some additional help, but Suzette and Steve Biela — members of Pilots N Paws, a group of pilots and plane owners that assist with animal transportation and have helped dozens of dogs — were more than happy to oblige.

Suzette, who is also a member of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots founded by Amelia Earhart, said one of the things the group does in November is to give back to a charity.

“It’s giving November – let’s go fly a dog,” she said.

The Bielas fitted a crate Tennant provided in the back of their plane and made a comfy spot for Katie, who, with a little positive reinforcement from some boiled chicken treats, climbed in for the ride.

Tennant said an update from the Bielas in the air showed a picture of Katie lying calmly in the back of the plane — and that she was enjoying looking out the window.

After a three hour flight, Katie was united with Lusty and her new family.  Lusty will take Katie on as a foster and, if everything goes well, may give her a forever home.

While most of the dogs at MCCAC won’t get a private flight to their new home, Johnson said Katie’s story is not an uncommon one.

“There is always a dog here – if not five – that is very scared,” Johnson said.  “This is a very uncontrolled environment and as soon as that dog steps foot on this property they smell and hear other dogs and the nerves just take over.  

“It happens a lot.  We have a lot of kids here that are just really troubled, but hey,  as long as we have the space to work with them and as long as they don’t try to harm another animal here, we try.  And Katie is proof.  Once she goes with Debra – I start working on the next one.”

Tennant said M4M really needs foster homes and donations to keep saving animals in need.  If you are interested in being a foster or would like to donate visit their website at or you can email Tennant at