Blues Player Flies Plane 700 Miles To Rescue 3 Stray Dogs

Blues Player Flies Plane 700 Miles To Rescue 3 Stray Dogs (video clip after the link).

George SellsReporter

4:52 p.m. CST, January 30, 2012


It is the most unusual of dog rescues, involving three strays, a 700-mile journey, and a pro hockey superstar. It’s the story of Emmitt, Lincoln, and Ernie, who should feel pretty special.

The dogs were happy to be on the ground Friday night after their cross country trip with St. Louis Blues center and captain David Backes. Backes never imagined being a dog chauffeur.

"I did not," said with a smile, "but (it’s) pretty rewarding to see how happy these guys are to be here, and probably happy just to be out of that plane."

Yes, plane. Backes, his wife Kelly, and flight instructor Tim Voithover had taken off hours earlier. They flew from St. Louis to Houston, Texas to pick up the dogs.

"They have a really big stray population down there," Kelly said of the rescue mission.

The flight was not the high end charter a hockey all-star might be used to. It included David making "sugaritos" out of Skittles and Fruit Roll Ups. It also involved him doing some of the flying. Backes is a student pilot, well on his way to a license. We asked him how he finds the time to go for such an intricate license while going through the grind of an NHL season.

"It’s kind of, besides going to the shelter and helping the dogs, it’s kind of my serenity retreat going up in a plane and really no one can reach you and I’m doing something I love," he said.

Asked if Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has voiced any concerns, he laughed it off, "He hasn’t said anything. I think he knows I can take a pretty good impact."

They’re making a different kind of impact on the dogs, who they picked up on a Houston tarmac from the corridor rescue group. The goal is to bring them back to the no kill, 5 Acres Animal Shelter in St. Charles where Kelly is a board member and active volunteer.

They arrived back in the St. Louis area after nearly eight hours in the air round trip. Helping animals is a well documented passion of the Backes’, but this also allowed David extra time with his flight instructor.

Voithofer concedes being responsible for the safety of one of the city’s most popular pro athletes is a little daunting. He doesn’t want to be a target of a rabble of angry Blues fans, "Absolutely. The day he soloed I was standing out here so nervous and he did a great job, but it is very nerve wracking to know that."

David’s flying skills are also getting pretty good reviews from Kelly, "He’s doing a great job and I’ve been up with him a few times and I feel pretty safe with him."

Asked if it was much of a vote of confidence to say "pretty safe," she chuckled, "Well pretty safe. I’ll feel really safe once he has his license."

Emmitt, Lincoln, and Ernie appear to feel safe and sound, too.

Please make sure that any content you post is appropriate to Game Time, which means that it pertains to hockey, the Blues, frosty adult beverages, or puppies.

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