P.E.I.'s pet pilot

Sally Cole scole@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 29, 2014

Brian Pound and his dog, Teddy, prepare to board his twin engine, six-passenger airplane at the Charlottetown Airport. When not transporting pets or people to their destinations, the Island-born pilot divides his time between P.E.I. and Alberta.

©Guardian photo by Sally Cole

As a private pilot, Brian Pound never knows where he'll get the call to go next.

Sometimes he's transporting people; sometimes it's cargo.

He has also taken to the sky to pick up some four-legged passengers — missions that lift the soul of this P.E.I. resident is passionate about people, their pets and flying.

“Sheryl, my wife, and I are dog people. And Teddy, our dog, often comes with us on the trips we take,” says Pound, who lives in Georgetown.

So this past June, when he received a call from Bill Jamieson, an air traffic controller in Charlottetown, he jumped at the chance to help.

“He said, ‘Brian, is there any way you would like to go to Newfoundland to pick up this guy's dog? Reba is critically ill and needs to go to the animal hospital at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC). They can't get her onto a commercial plane . . . He's got to get her there,' “ recalls Pound, who is also president of the P.E.I. Flying Association (PEIFA).

However, when he arrived at the Charlottetown Airport and discovered that the visibility in Newfoundland was poor, he became concerned. So he invited Dico Reijers, another pilot, to come along on this volunteer missions of mercy to help him navigate the twin engine, six passenger airplane through the fog and rain, using the plane's instruments.

Working together, they plotted a course through the dark, foreboding sky. After landing in St. John's, they picked up Reba and her owner, Travis Faulkner, and flew them to back to Charlottetown where the dog received immediate attention at AVC.

“Reba was in a lot of pain and discomfort and we were unable to get an MRI in Newfoundland. We were so happy that Brian volunteered to help us. We've made a friend for life,” says Faulkner, during a telephone interview.

That's due, in part, to the fact that Pound took the extra step of reaching out to Faulkner, taking him on a plane ride across the Island while Reba was in the hospital.He wanted to do whatever he could to help because,after the death of his own dog, Barron, several years ago,he knew all about the pain that a sick animal can create for a family.

“We became friends,” says Pound.

But, in spite of everyone's best efforts Reba, who had an internal injury and severe diarrhea, died several days later. Her death hit the family hard.

“We lost her way too young. It took every little bit of will out of me. So I cried,” says Faulkner, whose sister-in-law, Marie Ford, agrees.

“It was pretty traumatic. Unfortunately it didn't work out the way we had hoped it would, but Travis and (his wife) Cindy had done everything they possibly could,” says the North Tryon resident, who had initially alerted officials at the Charlottetown Airport about dog's condition.

His quest to save Reba is one of adventures that Pound has experienced since getting his pilot's license in 1985. Another time he got a request from Pilots and Paws Canada, a non-profit rescue organization, to fly a dog from Montreal to Halifax for treatment.

“We never found out what happened to the little mutt whose legs weren't working right. But I was happy to help.”

When asked about what motivates him to do this volunteer work, Pound is humble.

“Why do I do it? I've been so lucky with my life I feel it's an obligation to give something back because it's the only fair thing to do. (It's also from) working with the pilots at the P.E.I. Flying Association — a closely-knit group of 55 guys that help each other out. So it's something we all feel passionate about.”


Brian Pound trivia

Born at the Charlottetown Hospital, he is the son of Melvin and Doris Pound of Hazel Grove. His father was an air force mechanic so he grew up in Canadian Airforce bases across Canada and Europe.

Besides helping animals in crisis, he transports people to their destinations. Recently he flew Canadian country star George Canyon to concert venues in the Maritimes.

He divides his time between Georgetown, P.E.I., and Carstairs, Alta., where he has several business interests.