Out of Office: Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg
On a flight in August 2018, Tom Bragg flew a mother dog, her four pups and four other dogs from Texas to a new home in Iowa.

Tom Bragg, learning and development officer at $5.2 billion-asset MidWestOne Bank in Iowa City, Iowa, pilots animal rescue flights for Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit. Since 2008, he has conducted 150 flights and carried 389 animal passengers in his single-engine Beechcraft Musketeer airplane.

I’ve known I wanted to fly since I was a kid. I was fascinated by airplanes and the fact that things could somehow fly. I got my pilot certificate in 2006, so I’ve been flying for 14 years. After a couple years, I got tired of just going out and burning gas. I have been involved in Pilots N Paws for 12 years; it adds meaning, and it’s added purpose to my flying.

It’s an opportunity to do good. Pilots N Paws is made up of all walks of life, which I think makes it a strong and diverse community. It’s an efficient way to get animals from a place where they’re at risk to a place of safety, because flying is a mileage shrinker and a time shrinker.

The most rewarding part is the look in the animals’ eyes. Somehow the animals just know they are moving to someplace safer. It defies all reasoning and rationale. These creatures are trusting me to get them to a better place, and that’s a meaningful feeling. Another rewarding part is puppy kisses.

I think it makes me a better human. I have broadened and deepened my expressions of empathy. Everyone has a story, and rarely does a second person truly get to understand the full meaning and depth of that story. It’s just accepting that, for whatever reason, these animals are here right now, and I have an opportunity to help, so I will do what I can.

Emma Pitzl is an editorial assistant with Independent Banker.