Taking flight to save animals

Since he arrived in Pittsburgh, linebacker Derrek Tuszka has been looking for a way to get involved in the community.

And recently, he found the perfect way to combine several of his passions, aviation and his love for animals when he visited No Dog Left Behind, a Pittsburgh area nonprofit agency focused on rescuing animals that have run out of time at one shelter, and relocating them to a new shelter for a second chance at adoption.

"I got into aviation before college," said Tuszka. "I have been into it since then and really love it. I was looking for some things in the Pittsburgh community. They found No Dog Left Behind, which flies to different places and picks up not just dogs, but also cats and other pets, in shelters that either don't have a home or might be in a kill shelter. They fly and pick them up and relocate them to wherever they need to be and give them another opportunity to get adopted."

Tuszka visited the facility at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, Pa., learning more about the organization with the plan to get more involved moving forward.

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"It was very cool to see the whole operation and how it works," said Tuszka, who got to visit with some of the dogs who were rescued. "They have a couple of vans too, so if there is a large shelter and they have a bunch of pets to go pick up and can't fit them all on the plane, they will drive.

"I shared my interest in helping more, so hopefully I can help them out at some point and give some dogs another opportunity at having a home."

Tuszka, who has several dogs of his own, said he would love to fly on one of the missions, something he became passionate about before college.

"I started flying during college and flew throughout college," said Tuszka. "Whenever I do have a little break, I try to fly if I can. I can fly a fixed wing plane. I got my commercial multi engine rating. This offseason I got my commercial helicopter rating.

"I love to fly. It's actually safer than what people understand. Once you understand you realize it's safer than driving."

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