Southwest Airlines Helps Rescue 62 Dogs and Cats Left Homeless after Hurricane
Although it’s been four months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, almost 30 percent of the 3.3 million residents are still without power and are struggling to rebuild.
But it’s not just humans who were impacted by the natural disaster. Countless homeless cats and dogs were left stranded on the island.
While many residents of Puerto Rico fostered the animals, the effort it will take to rebuild the community meant they couldn’t keep them permanently.
But after months of planning and organization, Southwest Airlines and animal rescue organizations had a solution.
The airline planned to fly to Puerto Rico with rescue crews and supplies on board, and return to the U.S. with as many animals as they could.
The rescue mission would be much like the airline’s successful efforts to rescue pets when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.
Needless to say, this was one furry rescue flight, with plenty of love to go around! pic.twitter.com/mtBuDBGDw1
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) September 6, 2017
“The devastation that Hurricane Maria caused the communities of Puerto Rico is heartbreaking,” said Southwest Airlines Chief Communications Officer Linda Rutherford.
Pilots and flight crews volunteered their time to man the flight, while the trip itself was donated by the airline.
“Our Employees are eager to lend a hand in bringing relief to San Juan by partnering with DC-based animal organization, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, and Puerto Rico Animal Relief organization, PR Animals, in transporting dozens of impacted animals to the DC area in hopes of finding their forever homes,” Rutherford continued.
On Jan. 20, the airline took off with over 14,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies for both the animals and the affected people.
“This flight will literally save lives,” Mirah Horowitz, executive director and founder of Lucky Dog said.
“Both of the animals who are transported to D.C. as well as to those who remain on the island and need the supplies we are bringing.”
And when they landed on the island, they unloaded the relief supplies and began loading up the plane with over 60 grateful cats and dogs.
Quick look at this weekend’s #PuertoRico rescue effort. This was a team effort with @DCLuckyDog @SouthwestAir @pranimals and we were honored to be onboard to capture the event. #southwestheart #iamluckydog #AdoptDontShop pic.twitter.com/u5LoMFdnax
— Creative Liquid (@creativeliquid) January 23, 2018
Rescuers worked to strap crates into seat belts, and each animal got their very own row.
Vets and volunteers were also on board the plane to monitor the rescued animals on the journey back to Washington D.C.
And when they safely landed, the animals were transported to a local PetSmart adoption event, where almost all of the animals were adopted.
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