Twenty Smiles A Day
Matthew Kiener has being flying for over 20 years. Before he began his non-profit organization, Kiener owned a two-seater Cessna Aerobat plane. He says, “My first trip consisted of me flying five puppies in my two-seater plane. I didn’t think I could make it but I squeezed them in. I knew I had to get a bigger plane if I wanted to make this a part of my life.” Six years later, he upgraded to a Piper Saratoga, which is now fits seven.
Kiener did not grow up with dogs, and did not even think about having one. His wife, Jessica Kiener, begged him to once they moved on a farm in Chester, New Jersey. After being convinced they purchased Squire 12 years ago. He explains, “In the beginning I was the one with all of the rules. I believed they were messy and shouldn’t sit on the couch or go upstairs. After a couple of days, I was the only one breaking all of the rules.”
The dogs are a priority, but so are the people receiving the dogs. Some of the canines are sent to a foster family that will train them to treat veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. An intensive background check and interview will take place to make sure each dog will go to a safe and comfortable home.
Currently, the money for fuel for flights in this non-profit organization comes out of his pocket money. While he has some help from donations, regulations restrict him from using any money on the fuel itself. While the cost rises from year to year, Kiener is trying to pair up with companies like Shell to help the cause. He says, “If a company like Shell could help us out, I believe I can make trips multiple times a week instead of once a month. With the amount of dogs I can fit in my plane, I could save so many more than I do now.” The highest number of puppies Kiener has managed to fit in his plane was 24 Chihuahuas.
Terry Stacey is one of Kiener's volunteer co-piolots. He has been on two missions: one to Maryland and one to North Carolina.