600 Cats and Dogs Airlifted Out of Hawaii to Find New Homes

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Hundreds of adoptable cats and dogs from Hawaii are now in the Pacific Northwest, looking for their furr-ever homes.

The operation is what organizers are saying is the largest pet rescue flight in history.

600 Pets From Overcrowded Hawaiian Shelters Airlifted to U.S. Mainland

Dubbed “Paws Across the Pacific,” the operation picked up cats and dogs from overcrowded shelters on Kauai, Oahu, and Maui. More than 600 rescued animals were airlifted from the islands to the U.S. mainland.

See, the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just affected us humans. It’s changed things for cats and dogs, too. And while some places across the U.S. have seen a huge spike in pet adoptions and fostering, at-risk pets in shelters in Hawaii haven’t been faring as well.

“Pet shelters in Hawaii are in a COVID-19 crisis. Normal operations have been affected by months of shut down, economic downturn, limited hours, and routine flights to mainland halted,” said the CEO of Greater Good Charities, Liz Baker. Greater Good Charities supported the flight in partnership with Wings of Rescue, which helps relocate animals across the nation.

“The Paws Across the Pacific flight is urgently needed to make space in Hawaii’s shelters for at-risk pets who otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive necessary care to survive,” Baker said.

Along with Greater Good Charities and Wings of Rescue, the journey was also supported by the John R. Peterson Foundation, the Animal Rescue Site, Banfield Foundation, VCA Charities, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the Petco Foundation, Royal Canin, and Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation.

The rescue was also done in coordination with the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association to ensure the animals all arrived safely.

Mostly strays, these furry friends are looking forward to finding their lovable new homes on the mainland. Organizers say that the pets are ready, and have all been spayed or neutered.

The Adoptable Pets Endured Long Travel Hours

The pets had quite the journey from Hawaii — and honestly, traveled more in one day than I have since March. They caught their flight on a chartered Hercules C-130 plane, which landed at Seattle’s Boeing Field this past Thursday.

“They flew 6-7 hours from Hawaii, then they had a three hour car ride down here. So it was a lot,” said Laura Klink, a spokesperson for the Oregon Humane Society (OHS).

And according to Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, it is the largest animal rescue flight in history.

The adoptable shelter pets were taken to Oregon, Washington, and other western states. Some of the pets will be housed at OHS and the Humane Society of Southwest Washington, according to an Oregon-based ABC Television affiliate.