Though it’s been several months since hurricanes devastated islands throughout the Caribbean, rescue missions are still ongoing. Some are being led by charitable celebrities and others spearheaded by philanthropic companies—but many people have already stepped up to help those in need.
One such mission rescued dozens of animals from Puerto Rico earlier this month. Generous animal lovers helped make it a reality. It all started when Washington D.C.-based Lucky Dog Animal Rescue approached Southwest Airlines about helping take stranded pets from the devastated island.
In all, they ended up saving 62 animals: 16 cats and 46 dogs.
And they are HERE! 60+ rescue dogs and cats have arrived safe in DC thanks to Lucky Dog and the amazing folks at @SouthwestAir. We are on our way to @dogmabakery where these dogs and cats will meet their foster and forever families! #IAmLuckyDog #SatoPride #SouthwestHeart pic.twitter.com/oOfZt0RvTK
— Lucky Dog (@DCLuckyDog) January 20, 2018
After sending planes loaded with hurricane relief supplies for several months, Southwest and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue were able to team up to help Puerto Rico’s abandoned animals on Jan. 20. “The situation in San Juan was a little different because our employees and their families were affected, and with the electricity being out, we couldn’t focus on the animals right away,” said Lisa Tiller, Southwest’s senior communications manager to People magazine.
The airline recruited some of its top employees for the trip. In addition to the airline’s volunteers, a veterinarian and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue staff joined the animal rescue flight. Packed with more than 14,000 pounds of supplies, the plane took off from Baltimore-Washington International airport and headed to Puerto Rico.
Saving The Animals
After delivering supplies, the crew loaded the dogs and cats—inside dozens of crates—into the plane and belted them in. Before they were picked up, the animals had been sheltered and cared for by the Puerto Rican organization PR Animals, according to People.
The flight crew cared for the animals as they flew back to the continental U.S. “Somewhere along the flight we turned the seat belt sign off, and I kind of expected the puppies to come out, and I heard they had a puppy parade in the back,” the flight’s pilot David Newton told KHOU-TV.
Everyone on the plane bonded on the four-hour flight to Baltimore. In fact, Newton said many on his crew wanted to their new furry friends home.
The pups and kitties arrived in Virginia ready for an adoption event the next day. Many animals have already found forever homes, but there are still some pets from the flight available for loving families, including some at Lucky Dog’s facility. These certainly are lucky dogs and cats. All the families who welcomed a new furry friend this week are even luckier.
It’s safe to say that was a flight Newton and his crew won’t ever forget.
This wasn’t even Southwest’s first time helping displaced animals this hurricane season. In September, the company flew a plane full of dogs and cats from Texas animal shelters to California in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
See hundreds of touching photos from the Puerto Rico animal rescue flight at Lucky Dog Animal Rescue’s Facebook page.