Her day job is watching over all the volunteers and visitors who stream in and out of Best Friends Dogtown to help look after the pooches. But Juliette Watt is also a licensed pilot and flight instructor with her own four-seater Mooney plane. So she’s often aloft, bringing rescued animals back to the sanctuary or delivering them to their new homes.
And this week, she’s profiled in People Magazine in their “Heroes Among Us” section.
The article describes how she’s used her plane to rescue pets from hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, as well as to deliver hundreds of tough-to-place animals annually to new homes in towns across the country.
One of Juliette’s projects was helping place rabbits in new homes and refuges during the Great Bunny Rescue last year, when Best Friends rescued 1,600 rabbits from a backyard hoarding situation in Reno, Nevada. “Rabbits need to get out of their cages to eat and stretch every few hours,” she told People Magazine. “And you can’t do that on commercial airlines.”
Not mentioned in the article: Juliette’s longest flight – from Miami, Florida, to Best Friends in Southern Utah, when she brought the giant mastiff Zeus from the county shelter for special care at the sanctuary.
Nor her biggest passenger: Luna the miniature horse (the size of a big dog), whom she took to the veterinary hospital at Oregon State University for specialized surgery. Zeus and Luna each took up both the two back seats of the small plane. (“And we stopped half-way to Oregon,” notes Juliette, “so Luna could take a bathroom break.”)
Juliette ferries people as well as pets. Currently, she’s doing runs back and forth to the Great Cat Rescue in Pahrump, 60 miles from Las Vegas, where Best Friends is caring for hundreds of cats. “It’s a long, hot, time-consuming drive back and forth,” says Juliette. “But I can get whoever and whatever they need from here at the sanctuary to there in less than an hour. And that’s a big help.”
Photo by Andrew Geiger, courtesy of People Magazine