Last weekend, 60 dogs and cats who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy — and facing euthanasia in local New York shelters — got on a plane in New York and flew to San Diego. Not as cargo, but in coach. They had the plane to themselves, actually.
Once they arrived, they were whisked away to a shelter in Rancho Santa Fe to be given the opportunity to find their forever homes — for as long as it takes. The shelter is no-kill.
How does something like this happen? Thank the Helen Woodward Animal Center, who didn’t just sit back and watch the drama unfold in New York City, but acted. The people who worked at the center, wondering how to help, hatched an outlandish plan. They decided they wanted people to fly them as many of Sandy’s dogs and cats as possible. They just had to figure out how to do it.
They got on the phone. They called Southwest, who donated a pilot and crew. They called SeaWorld in San Diego, whose staff know a thing or two about shipping animals across country, and they quickly signed on, donating animal handlers to make the trip. They also called BP, who bankrolled the gas money. You cannot forget gas money.
Sixty dogs and cats now have a chance for a new life — and that frees up room in the chaotic shelter scene unfolding in New York right now. Fortunately, that’s also getting a huge break from another person who picked up the phone and got things done: celebrity chef Rachael Ray. She teamed up with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to open a 20,000-square-foot shelter for animals left homeless in the storm.
“The goal is to provide the people who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy an opportunity to bring their pets in and board them for up to 30 days and really just focus on getting their lives back together,” said Tim Rickey, spokesman for the ASPCA, according to ABC News.
There’s still a lot to be done to care for the thousands of pets affected by the storm, but these examples show that there are people out there who are making things happen. If you’d like to donate to help with the 60 dogs and cats now safe at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, click here.