Dozens of cats and dogs displaced by Super Storm Sandy arrived in San Diego Saturday via a donated chartered Southwest Airlines flight.
The group of 60 orphaned animals – who traveled on the cross-country flight from Newark, N.J., chaperoned by animal rescue experts from SeaWorld – were taken to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, which will serve as their safe new home for now.
The Center, located at 6461 El Apajo Rd., will temporarily shelter the rescued pets, which hail from Save-A-Pet in Long Island and Delco SPCA in Delaware County, Penn.
The animals will be evaluated and given medical treatments and vaccinations before being placed in loving homes with adoptive families.
“These are the silent victims,” said Mike Arms, president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in a press release. "There are shelters that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, without electricity, without supplies.”
According to Center reps, this animal rescue was a huge collaborative effort.
Southwest Airlines donated the chartered plane, two pilots donated their time, fuel provider British Petroleum (BP) donated fuel for the flight and SeaWorld provided veterinarians and technicians to supervise the animals during the trip.
SeaWorld San Diego crews transported the pets to the Center after they landed at Lindbergh Field Saturday afternoon.
“Everyone involved in the rescue is going to incredible lengths to aid these displaced pets and to get them into loving homes,” said SeaWorld spokesperson Becca Bides. “Helen Woodward Animal Center and Southwest Airlines are big-hearted organizations and long-standing partners of SeaWorld and we are thrilled to team together for a cause.”
The flight crew said the 30 dogs and 30 cats were very well-behaved during their one-way flight to their new home in San Diego.
“They were great. Much more so than some of the [passengers] we’ve had in the past,” said Southwest Airlines pilot Sean McMahon after arriving at Lindbergh Field.
The trip to the West Coast may have saved the lives of many of these animals.
Sandy’s devastation meant that some heavily-affected shelters couldn’t even open their doors to orphaned pets, and these animals were on a timeline to be euthanized.
“The orphaned animals had no place to go,” said Jessica Gercke of the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
Reps from Helen Woodward said this cross-country rescue operation is part of the Animal Center’s mission to bring happiness to pets and their potential owners.
And staffers are sure these furry, four-legged Sandy survivors will find their way into people’s hearts.
The dogs and cats will be available for adoption beginning Wednesday, after they complete their medical exams.
For more information about these Sandy pets and how to donate or help, call (858) 756-4117 or visit the Helen Woodward Animal Center website.