Like Superman, Christopher Frederick flies through the air. Just replace the cape with a private plane and saving humans with saving animals in need.
The Chicago-based radio DJ for 103.5 KISS FM’s morning show volunteers his time for Pilots N Paws, an organization that uses the time and talents of private plane pilots to pick up rescue animals and deliver them to airports near their new families.
“I was looking for ways to stay active, proficient in flying,” Frederick, who goes by “Fred” to listeners, tells PEOPLE. “This resonated with me because of my passion for animals. Since starting three years ago I’ve flown nearly 150 dogs.”
Fred donates the plane, gas and time, using his afternoons and weekends to make round-trips between the South and Midwest.
“You name it I’ve flown it,” he shares, recalling flights with a 200-lb. mastiff, a mama dog and her puppies who’d been abandoned on the side of the road and one airsick pooch. “But they’re never mean or angry,” he adds. “I know it sounds strange but I really sense they know where they’re going, that it’s better, when I pick them up.”
One dog with that feeling was Angel, a blind and deaf puppy Fred flew from Malden, Missouri, to East Chicago, Indiana, over the weekend on behalf of her new suburban Chicago family, the Currans. The whole situation was almost routine for the crew; Amy and Scott Curran had met Fred when he flew their first blind and deaf dog, Miss Tommie, to Chicago years before.
“The same cast of characters came together for a different, yet similar, dog,” Scott Curran tells PEOPLE. “And the story is to be continued.”
Angel came to the Currans by way of Facebook; they set up a page for Miss Tommie years ago so those involved in her rescue could track her progress. A woman reached out to the Currans asking what to do with a blind and deaf 6-month-old puppy she’d “informally rescued” from her sister’s home, Scott recalls.
Long story short, the woman decided she didn’t have the resources to help the puppy, and after some phone calls the wheels were in motion to bring Angel to the Currans.
“We played an intense game of mental ping pong, considering all relevant factors as much as we are able,” Scott says. “At the end of the day … she needs a home. We have one.”
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Angel joined the family’s three other dogs — Miss Tommie, 12, Ella, who’s deaf and toothless, and Jancey, 12 — and “so far, so good,” Scott says.
“These dogs are worth saving,” he continues. “They add more to our lives than I think we will to theirs. Their special needs are opportunities for us to learn specials lessons about life.”
The Currans have two children, ages 7 and 9, who’ve spent their lives around foster and rescue dogs. “They teach us about presence: you really have to be present for these dogs,” he says. “That’s a really awesome mindfulness exercise for us. And they understand the importance of caring, of limitations. But a lot like dogs, kids are seemingly immune to physical limitations.”
Fans of the Currans’ dogs can follow their adventures on Miss Tommie and Angel’s Facebook pages. Though the family is done rescuing dogs for now — “We are full at the inn!” Scott jokes — Fred is just getting started. “My goal,” he says, “is to fly 150 dogs to new homes this year.”