TAMPA — Diane Dahlbeck walked around Tampa Executive Airport on Saturday morning, cradling a blue-eyed, golden Lab mix beneath her chin.
Dahlbeck and her husband, George, spent the morning flying their plane into Tampa from Hinesville, Ga., where they'd loaded up a litter of precious cargo as part of a rescue program organized by the nonprofit group Pilots N Paws.
They were two of roughly 50 private pilots who volunteered to take more than 400 rescued animals to cities across the country, where they could be placed into no-kill rescue shelters or new homes.
"It's either kill them or move them," Dahlbeck said, cradling one of the dogs. "Look at this face, I mean, do you really want anything to happen to this little guy?"
She wandered with the puppy, making rounds and greeting other pilots. She kissed the Lab mix's ears and nuzzled him as she showed him off. She avoided placing him into his cage until Eric King, with the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor, coaxed him out of her hands.
"Look at him," King told her. "He'll have a good home in no time."