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Army veteran flies across America to save more than 700 pets from kill shelters

He rescues unloved animals facing euthanasia

Paul Steklenski, 45, from Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, forked out $65,000 (£50,000) for an aircraft which he fills with crates of unloved animals facing euthanasia.

The tank operator-turned-IT expert realised he wanted to save lots of animals after adopting a homeless dog from a rescue centre.

At first, Mr Steklenski considered driving to kill shelters within the US and transporting the canines elsewhere by road to assist them find owners.But he knew he would be ready to give dozens more abandoned pets new lives if he transported them in differently .

He had coincidentally started learning the way to fly in 2013 as a hobby, but realised at an equivalent time that he wanted to rescue animals, so went on to urge his licence.

Then in May 2015 he found out Flying Fur Animal Rescue and says he's single-handedly saved 742 animals since then, many which were neglected or abused. In February the United States Army ex-serviceman of eight years - an SPC who trained troops in Kentucky - even bought his own plane to assist with the task.

'Seeing the dogs at the shelter was heartbreaking. it had been horrible to think that there have been numerous animals being euthanised because they're stuck during a certain area.

'The further south you go the more there's a pet overpopulation problem. it's distressing.

'I realised I could help make a difference by taking place there, picking them up and taking them to other shelters.

'The plane may be a tool that permits me to try to to tons during a day that i could not do with a bus.

'It's a particularly emotional job but it's extremely rewarding.'

Mr Steklenski, who lives together with his wife, fellow IT expert Michelle, 46, flies each day or a half day once a month to fly to shelters, where he picks up some cats also as dogs.

The caring pilot, who went on to adopt a second dog himself, Layla, now loads as many dogs and cats as he can squeeze onboard in one go - sometimes up to 23 in one trip. He flies to North Carolina and takes them to shelters in other states where there is a better chance they'll be adopted.

But though it is a battle finding the funds, he says actually making the cross-country trip with dozens of dogs is simple . Mr Steklenski, who doesn't have children, said: 'Once the engine starts up they nod off or will stay up and appearance out of the windows.