Linda Rohdin and Mick take a walk at Harbour Quay

Linda Rohdin and Mick take a walk at Harbour Quay

Air Angel: Alberni woman assists rescue dogs

Alberni's Linda Rohdin to start a non-profit organization called Air Angels, which organizes air transportation for rescue dogs.

It all started with Mick, a dog Linda Rohdin had never set eyes on.

Rohdin and her husband Eric had settled in Port Alberni for retirement, bringing their mastiff Finn along with them. When Finn died, Rohdin started looking for a rescue dog. She felt she had the time, funds and heart to help a dog that might not have a good chance of adoption.

She started searching on the Internet for Canadian dog rescue sites and hit it off with the owner of one place in Battleford, Sask. Since Eric was visiting the area at the time, she made the decision to take Mick—who was suffering from a shoulder injury and hip dysplasia. She asked Eric to bring the dog home before either of them had even met him.

That experience led Rohdin to start a non-profit organization called Air Angels, which organizes air transportation for rescue dogs.

“The rescues come in and I have to ensure the people dropping (the dog) off and picking it up are going to be there in time,” she says.

“The need for it is to encourage people right across Canada to take a rescue dog. And it works.”

In order to get the dogs from airport to airport, Rohdin relies on WestJet employees who fly on their days off, and use their staff discounts to arrange for the dogs’ transportation (the rescue societies pay these fees, never the WestJetters, she stressed).

Last year, Rohdin helped transport 171 dogs on 101 flights with nine WestJetters. In three weeks in January 2013, she helped transport 28 dogs from all over Canada and even the United States to new lives.

There have been a handful of high-profile transfers, too. Chewy, a Samoyed cross from Barrhead, Alta., headed to Hollywood to work as a stand-in in a Disney production. There have also been transfers from Bermuda and even Bangkok.

It’s no easy task: Rohdin started with a handful of volunteer WestJet staffers, and that number has exploded to 60. She receives nearly a dozen requests every day.

Rohdin credits the popularity of the program to Jane Russett, WestJet’s new ambassador with Air Angels.

Russett, a flight attendant, has also flown numerous rescue dogs to their destinations, at first with Hulls Haven Border Collie Rescue and now with Air Angels.

She was introduced to Rohdin a year and a half ago, and now assists Rohdin in flight bookings.

“She’s quite passionate,” Russett says of Rohdin.

Russett has always had rescue dogs in her family. “On my rescue we’ve got two dogs that we couldn’t let go,” she admitted. One is from northern Alberta and one is from Kentucky.

Her philosophy is simple: “I believe every dog needs an owner. It’s unconditional love.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Getting enough Vitamin D can be challenging for Canadians, especially during winter months. (CONTRIBUTED)
ACTIVE LIVING: The ‘sunshine vitamin’ plays a vital role in our health

Port Alberni registered dietitian Sandra Gentleman writes about health issues

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns gives a thumbs up to active transportation during a presentation of the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce's Bike SEAT program at McLean Mill National Historic site in Port Alberni on April 16, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
QUINN’S QUIPS: MP Gord Johns takes victory ride for cycling strategy

Johns gained a reputation as the bicycle-riding MP during his first year

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Volunteers from the Alberni Valley Enhancement Society release a bucket filled with 5,000 coho fry into Kitsuksis Creek on the bridge at Batty Road, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVID HOOPER)
Volunteers release thousands of coho fry into Port Alberni creeks

Fry come from small hatchery on McLean Mill National Historic Site

In the five years since the Dry Creek flood abatement project was completed, the pathway built behind commercial buildings on Third Avenue has become overgrown with Scotch broom and other weeds. (PHOTO COURTESY RANDY FRASER)
‘New’ Dry Creek path falls into disrepair in Port Alberni

City’s land access contracts lapse as condition of pathway beside creek deteriorates

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read