On Wings Of Care is a US registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife, wild habitat, and natural ecosystems; to the sustainable coexistence of them with humans and domestic animals; and to the humane care of domestic animals. (Tax ID# 27-2476681)
We provide information, education, and services for public benefit by performing and coordinating searches, rescues, transports, surveys, rehabilitation, medical and veterinary treatment, and scientific research -- in flight, at sea, and on land.
We use and support a network of experienced pilots, boat captains, scientists, veterinarians, wildlife specialists, animal rescuers, photographers, and videographers.
(These photos represent just a very few of our many memorable missions, each with great stories.)
-- Rescue and transport of domestic animals and wildlife throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. More than 120 significant transport efforts and several hundred animals (dogs, cats, farm animals, pelicans, turtles, etc.) rescued since 2002.
-- Aerial, ground, and at-sea searching and tracking of wildlife over oceans and wilderness. More than 1000 flight-tracking hours since 2004 in the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean coast and islands from Baja, Mexico to British Columbia, Atlantic Ocean coastal areas from New England to Florida, inland wilderness areas throughout the western U.S. and -- yes, from South Africa to well below the southern tip of Australia!
-- Aerial, sea, and ground environmental-use surveys throughout the U.S.
-- Aerial & ground reconnaissance to document and help stop illegal activities involving abuse of animals, wildlife, or ecosystems.
- Aerial and ground evacuations and relocations of wild and domestic animals caused by fire, floods, accident, or illness.
-- Aerial transport of equipment and personnel to support wildlife studies on islands in the Pacific (great white sharks, elephant seals, island birds and mammals).
-- Support for rescue, rehab, and release of wildlife into native habitat.
-- Transport and placement of animals and nesting materials and support for or replanting of native foliage after major forest fires, floods, and other disasters
-- Rescue, evacuation, and supply flights to emergency and disaster areas (tornados, hurricanes, earthquake, fire)
We have a few.
-- Pilots who fly as Pilot-In-Command for us must have at least 250 hours in make and model. For flights over 250 miles, we request that pilots have instrument ratings.
-- Aircraft used for On Wings Of Care missions must have proof of current annual and other FAA-required inspections and maintenance, be capable of safe use in all flight conditions expected for the mission, and provide a comfortable, quiet, safe environment for animals and cargo to be carried.
-- Recipients of animals from OWOC transports or rescues will sometimes be asked to sign a form stating that if circumstances arise where those animals cannot remain in the safe custody of the intended foster or adopter and are at risk for death, illness, or abandonment, that OWOC will be notified and given the opportunity to retrieve the animal. We may not require these agreements if the animals are already being transported with agreements from other rescue organizations or shelters. We at OWOC feel very strongly that adoption of an animal should be viewed as a commitment for the full natural lifetime of that animal. We offer our rescue and transport services in order to facilitate the uniting of animals and humans as "forever families."
-- Rescue organizations or individuals who solicit our help with fostering or transporting must supply complete paperwork required for the animals' destinations and meet any other requirements-- e.g., international health certificates and over eight months of age for Canada. We request honest assessments of the animals' sociability with other dogs and cats, their temperament and behavior in cars or around people, and so on. We need this information in order to plan which animals can be transported together and over what distances. We optimize our transports so that all animals can be comfortable, preferably not in crates and not muzzled, just leashed loosely to tiedowns so that they cannot come forward enough to interfere with any flight controls.
Mission costs are not determined according to the number of animals or amount of equipment we transport, their weight, or their size. If they fit our weight and volume and capabilities, they go. Costs depend more on logistical factors such as distance, terrain, weather, and schedule. Requests for animal transport or tracking services must include information such as size, weight, behavioral characteristics and needs for the animals or equipment to be carried and any special requirements.
Costs for a typical flight mission include actual fuel costs plus amortized unavoidable costs for safety maintenance, repairs, and inspections. Other expenses -- pilots and captains and drivers, labor, animal care -- are donated by our volunteers. Our workhorse aircraft -- single-engine piston-engine Cessnas -- typically cost us $150-$200/hr to operate at a minimum. Missions involving ground vehicles or boats are costed similarly, except that we often are able to use vessels or ground vehicles that are donated and we pay only fuel.
When a mission is proposed, a plan is developed for how to accomplish it, costs are estimated, and the Board of Directors approves or disapproves it. If it is approved, we set about raising funds to cover it. If we raise them, we proceed. If we don't -- well, we need to start declining. To date, we've tapped our savings further than we can continue to do, so we'll either learn to solicit donations more successfully, or we'll learn to say no.
Donations to On Wings Of Care
All donations to On Wings Of Care are fully tax-deductible, and receipts for tax purposes are always provided to donors. Our tax returns and annual reports are available publicly and on request.
Donations are solicited only to cover actual mission costs -- fuel and mission-specific maintenance for aircraft or vehicles used, veterinary and other professional services, food and boarding for animals, equipment for research, documentation, or field work, and any related shipping and handling costs. We do not use donations to pay for time or services provided by On Wings Of Care volunteers, including our pilots. We receive no salaries and do not use donations to cover overhead expenses.
General donations are used to help missions where the people, animals, or objective cannot provide their own funds. General donations can go to specific missions or to specific categories of missions -- e.g., wildlife tracking, ecosystem protection, domestic animal rescue, and so on. Just specify what you'd like to support, and when that mission is being organized, you'll receive a request for your final approval for how the funds will be spent.
All of us with On Wings Of Care are lifelong nature-lovers and enthusiastic supporters of animals, wildlife, oceans, and the planet's ecosystems. We range from pilots and boat captains and truck drivers to scientists and mechanics and secretaries -- and a lot of stuff between. Every one of us is responsive and tenacious when it comes to finding ways to protecting animals and what they need in order to live well. And we are more than willing to get our hands dirty and work hard.
The majority of our work is not glamorous. We seldom get to fly leisurely across the country in beautiful weather. Our transport flights or drives usually involve long hours and tight schedules, demanding winds and weather, and darkness. We squeeze these transports in between our own responsibilities at home and work, so rarely do they get combined with any sort of leisurely vacations. (Do any animal rescuers remember what those are?) But no complaints. There are few joys greater than seeing innocent animals change from pictures of despair on death row to grateful delight in the arms of people who love and want them! Although we appreciate all of your generous offers to have us stay a while with you and visit, please forgive us if all we do is accept a brief napping place and then leave for our next mission.
We do plenty of the non-glamorous preparations and cleanup associated with animal rescue -- cleaning cages and vehicles, networking by internet and telephone, finding release sites, getting permits, nursing sick animals all night, etc. We drive and hike for hours into the back country lugging heavy crates filled with wild animals being released into the wild. We also rise before dawn and drive for hours in order to crawl on our bellies in narrow spaces under houses to retrieve trapped, injured, or barely alive animals of all sorts -- raccoons, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, bobcats, domestics, to name a few sorts we've met under such unusual circumstances.
We're not the best at photographing or videotaping most of what we do, but we have vowed to improve on that, so that all of you can follow better what we do and help us do more good. And by the way, we can always use new volunteers!
Special thanks go to the many people who help OWOC all the time but prefer to remain behind the scenes:
-- Pilots and aircraft owners who fly with us or for us and even let us fill their airplanes with rescue animals or humanitarian relief supplies;
-- Aircraft mechanics who take our calls at all hours and drop everything to help us keep our flight schedules;
-- Veterinarians and vet techs who come to us in difficult places at inconvenient times in bad weather to do tricky emergency surgeries in makeshift hospital rooms;
-- Wildlife rehabbers and domestic animal fosters who say "Sure, bring 'em over" when we call them with five or fifteen tiny cold dehydrated almost-dead babies who need to be bottle-fed with eyedroppers every two hours;
-- Friends and family members who keep smiling and tolerate our varying schedules, unexpected overnight guests of varying species, missed appointments, and last-minute plan changes.
Our Directors and Advisors
We presently have four Directors and several Advisors. Our group of Advisors is growing, for as we've expanded into more significant roles in both wildlife preservation and domestic animal rescue, we've begun working with many more professionals.
Bonny Schumaker (President and Founder) works from both southern California and the Gulf Coast. She has been rescuing and rehabbing both domestic and wildlife for the past four decades. She is also an airline transport and commercial pilot, a long-standing gold-seal FAA flight instructor, and an avid outdoors person. She worked with NASA / JPL as a Ph.D. physicist for 22 years to help support the kinds of activities that On Wings Of Care and like-minded organizations carry out. If she had two more lives to live she would just be doing more of the same, except she'd put music and dance back into one of them.
Deb Castellana (Board Director) works from both the Bay area of California and the Gulf Coast. She brings a wealth of experience in marine science and is also an accomplished dive master, diving instructor, and boat captain. An animal-lover to the max, she brings not just considerable knowledge and endless enthusiasm for the oceans but also an excellent head for business and management. She is a steadying voice between our desire to say "Yes!" to every rescue and the reality of our savings accounts. Her beloved rescue border collie Sophie is excellent practice for Deb in dealing with us as we continually bring her new proposed activities on a daily basis!
Dave Couch (Board Director) works both from his home in the southern Sierra Nevada and from southern California. Retired from a long career in professional ground transport, an avid outdoorsman and mountaineer, and a very handy guy with endless compassion for animals and humans, he has been a godsend for our more tricky, last-minute animal rescues and transports. His vast network of friends in the environmental world has brought us some very fruitful connections and collaborations. Dave's warm heart and massage-therapist skills have also been put to tremendous use, as he himself has adopted four of our most challenging rescue animals -- two cats and two dogs, whom other humans had abused or abandoned. The cats have changed from skittish ghosts to mellow marshmallows, and the two dogs are so sure they've landed in heaven that they now live for the sound of Dave's voice! But then, they actually are in heaven, going for hikes in the Sierras all the time and then hanging out with Dave and his friends.
Glen E. Grandy (Board Director) works from his homes in southern California and the central California foothills. He is an accomplished pilot and aircraft owner, as well as a lifelong animal rescuer himself. Retired, he and his wife Emily have been critical help in fostering and transporting both wild and domestic animals over the past decade. On more than one occasion, Glen has kept rescue transports on schedule by flying, driving, or letting us use his airplane and fostering animals prior to their transports. His advice on both aircraft and animal matters has often been invaluable.
J. Brayton Matthews (Advisor) works from the Gulf Coast and his home in New Orleans, LA. He is a professional aviator and aviation business manager, and since he joined On Wings Of Care after seeing us work in the Gulf after the spring 2010 BP oil spill, he has been one of our most staunch supporters. He and Deb keep our business feet on the ground, and his familiarity with aircraft and flying has made him a very valuable addition both to our flight and ground crews. His great love for animals is obvious to all, and he is usually accompanied by his own rescue dog "Piper" -- a Siberian Husky who has become the airport's adored mascot.
Larry Buchanan (Advisor) is our airplane mechanic, co-pilot, networker, inventor, and friend extraordinaire. (His phone number on some of our cell phones is listed under "911" because he's often the one we call for help!) He lives and works in southern California, can build or repair or re-invent just about anything mechanical, and is a gentle natural "Alpha" who has tended many a full plane of dogs with us as we've flown over the mountains.
(More to come!)