Kitten travels hundreds of miles to become woman’s companion

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio-- For the past ten years, Debi Boies has helped thousands of animals find homes even if it means flying the animal hundreds of miles to get there.

The Copley native helped co-found an organization called Pilots N Paws using volunteer pilots to fly animals at risk of being euthanized to new homes all across the country.

"Our volunteer pilots fly rescue animals, shelter animals, animals after disasters to our veterans as service animals or comfort animals -- whatever the case may be," said Boies.

Since its founding in 2008, Pilots N Paws has flown 130,000 animals including sea turtles, a snake, and a dolphin to new homes.

She explained that the pilots need flying time to maintain their certifications and often welcome an opportunity to do something good at the same time.

"Public benefit flying is a huge part of our country that maybe the public isn't aware of, and many times these pilots -- they have to have a reason to fly other than just to get a $100 hamburger somewhere or fly in a circle, and also several of them need to build up their flight-time hours if they want to volunteer to fly humans as patients and this is a great way for them to do that. They have to fly a certain number of hours to get certification so why not make a flight and save a life -- the way that we all look at it, and they are very generous and very giving people," said Boies.

Boies, who now lives in South Carolina, says her niece had also started rescuing cats there and on Tuesday, the Pilots N Paws mission became personal.

Boies' mother, Nena Sabol, lives in Cuyahoga Falls where at the age of 88 she says she still has a very active mind although she has lost much of her sight.

"I look in the mirror and I can't see my face. I can't see my fingers, nails and stuff and it's getting harder and harder for me to pick out my clothes so I can't tell color," said Sabol.

An animal lover, Sabol says she and her husband, Ken, lost their pet dog, Holly, two years ago leaving a void that only a companion animal can fill.  "It cheers people up; everybody just about everybody in the world loves animals. It's something they can touch and it's warm and it loves them and gives them a little kiss back," said Sabol.

So Nena says it was her idea to help her daughter rescue a kitten that needed a home, giving Nena a new companion.

"It will put joy in my life. It will put something that's good, that will take my attention to and I will look forward to getting up in the morning and seeing it and petting it, and knowing that I can throw something for it, or jiggle something that it can play with, and I can tell it's playing by its jumping around," said Sabol.

"It's a lonely life when you have lived your whole life as a sighted person and then you lose your sight and she would really like to have another animal," said Boies.

"So I put a message out on our Pilots N Paws forum and two pilots all the way from Ypsilanti, Michigan, are flying down to South Carolina to meet with my niece to pick up this kitten and fly it back to Akron-Canton to be with my mom," she added.

The kitten who made the trip from South Carolina to Ohio arrived a short time after 4 p.m. Tuesday, where Sabol was anxiously waiting for her arrival.

"They love you with, you know; they don't ask for anything in return except for some love and care and some food and that's all they need," said Sabol.

More on Pilots N Paws, here.