For over 20 years I was either in, writing for, or producing rock 'n' roll bands and spent many a hard day’s night in private planes partying across the sky, surrounded by a planeload of interesting characters.

Fast forward a few years and not much has changed. Sure I have far less hair than I did, and I might have put on a few pounds, but I’m still hurtling across the sky in private planes. Only this time I’m doing something tangible to make the world better instead of trying to lose a few brain cells while attempting to prove I was cool by emulating the hedonistic urges that actually belonged to someone else who was far more cool than I ever could be. As I write this, I’m on a Wings of Rescue flight carrying 160 of the best friends anyone could ever have as I shepherd the entire cat and dog population of the Humane Society of Broward County to Hayward, California. We’re flying because the shelter stands right smack in the projected eye of Hurricane Irma and I can’t stand the idea that these pets might not otherwise survive.

Hurricanes have gotten a lot worse over the last few years. I’m not a meteorologist and only have a layman’s understanding of weather phenomenon. However, I do understand hurricanes are formed when hot air moves over bodies of water… and the hotter the temperatures are the greater the wallop they can carry. Of course, according to our current government there is no such thing as global warming, but the reality is when they strike, people die and body counts dominate the news and the networks’ ratings soar when some idiot who did not heed evacuation orders is plucked off the roof of their house by a swift water response unit.

Rick Browde of Wings of Rescue checks the dogs and cats on his flight Browde unloads dogs and cats after his flight from Florida to California. (Photo: Ric Browde/Wings of Rescue)

You might see the odd dog or cat rescued on TV, because it’s cute and sells ad time. However, you won’t see anyone compiling numbers of the pets and farm animals who die anonymously. The death toll is huge, disgraceful and unnecessary. Maybe if we built a few seawalls instead of a useless wall in the desert we could actually make America safer, but that is a decision for politicos.

But I digress. I’m proud to be heading Wings of Rescue’s hurricane relief efforts. With our fabulous partners, the,, the Rescue Bank and the Humane Society of the United States we have already flown 14 rescue flights in 10 days carrying over 1,200 pets to safety from Harvey and Irma’s paths. These flights cost money — a lot of money — but they are entirely worth it. They have been funded through the kindness of strangers who have donated 5, 10, 20 dollars or more to save lives.

All it takes is a little compassion. No one is here questioning anyone’s political affiliation. I lifted a crate into the plane assisted by a guy wearing a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat — and I didn’t argue with him or dismiss him as being a jerk. A large swath of America has come together to save pets … and that in itself has been the sole ray of sunshine in a dismal and embarrassing year when hate has so often triumphed over love, and avarice and vitriol are considered virtues by certain segments of society.

As soon as I land we will turn the plane around and grab another load of pets from Irma’s clutches. I hope we have the money to pay for it!

If you would like to help Wings of Rescue stay in the air flying pets to safety, please donate.

What it's like to fly pets out of a hurricane's path
Ric Browde, president and CEO of Wings of Rescue, is a first responder who evacuates animals before storms hit.