Juliette Watt, 56
Juliette Watt will go to extraordinary lengths to help a bunny in distress. Or 1,600 bunnies, as was the case last year when the owner of a rabbit ranch in Nevada decided he could no longer care for his cottontails. Watt fired up her four-seat, single-engine plane and flew the rabbits, 21 at a time, to animal sanctuaries from Southern California to Martha’s Vineyard, making sure her passengers had plenty of lettuce and liquids along the way. “Rabbits need to get out of their cages to eat and stretch every few hours,” says Watt. “And you can’t do that on commercial airlines.”
Comforting bunnies—as well as cats, dogs, horses, snakes and other critters—keeps Watt plenty busy when she isn’t coordinating volunteers at Utah’s Best Friends Animal Society, the country’s largest animal sanctuary. A licensed pilot since 1996 (a longtime dream), she has used her own plane to rescue pets from places like hurricane-ravaged Louisiana. She also delivers about 200 tough-to-place animals annually to new owners in towns across America. (Best Friends pays for the fuel.) “To bring together a homeless pet with the perfect new companions—nothing can match that,” says the British-born Watt, whose husband, Jason, 40, produces promotional videos for the shelter.
Among Juliette’s fans: Patti Lehman of Kissimmee, Fla., who adopted Ms. Laura, a blind, lame but “full of spirit” mixed-breed dog, rescued from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Says Lehman: “I’ll always be grateful to Juliette for bringing her into my life.”