The pandemic has upended life as we know it, but humans aren’t the only victims of this global health crisis. As millions of Americans lose their jobs or fall ill, cats and dogs have become collateral damage. Shelters are one of the only resources left to accommodate pets surrendered by people who can no longer care for them.
Nowhere is this crisis starker than in Hawaii, where the island’s tourism economy has ground to a halt, causing adoptions to plummet. This has left many shelters (which once shuttled excess animals to mainland shelters on commercial flights) near or above maximum capacity. Normal transport operations that shuttle pets from Hawaii to the mainland have all but ceased, putting animals at risk every day flights remain grounded. This worrying situation has been further compounded by kitten season, which runs longer than usual in Hawaii’s warm climate, and the tropical storms brewing across the Pacific Ocean.
This looming crisis has led Hawaii’s emergency management agencies to call for an emergency airlift of high-risk animals on a chartered Hercules C-130, a turbo-prop aircraft with a military and civilian history of airlifts and rescue missions. On October 29, 2020, the plane will cross the Pacific carrying 157 dogs and 525 cats saved from overcrowded shelters on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Lanai, and the Big Island, before touching down in Seattle, where all 642 animals will be distributed to shelters across the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Not only will these at-risk pets be flying to a region where demand for adoption is high, they’ll be participating in the largest pet rescue in American history!
Greater Good Charities and Wings of Rescue are partnering with The Animal Rescue Site for this historic rescue flight, which is being conducted in coordination with Hawaiian Humane Society, Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Hawaii Island Humane Society, Maui Humane Society, Kauai Humane Society, Aloha Ilio Rescue, Kauai SPCA, Banfield Foundation, VCA Pet Hospitals, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Petco Foundation, Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, and a very generous grant from the John R. Peterson Foundation. This pioneering relief effort will also be used to model future rescue operations.
We’re also using this flight as an opportunity to fly in large quantities of pet food, medical supplies, training personnel, and other critical necessities to help animals and caregivers in overwhelmed island shelters. Please click here if you’d like to help us fill up the C-130 with blankets, bowls, collars, leashes, toys, and treats before the plane heads back to Hawaii. Your generous donations will help Hawaiian shelter pets feel comfortable and loved until they can find their own homes.
Of course, Paws Across the Pacific wouldn’t be possible without your help. Your generous donations have helped us evacuate shelter pets from hurricanes and other disaster zones, and we’re counting on your generous support to help us fly 642 dogs and cats to safety on October 29. Just $25 allows us to purchase 625 air miles for a shelter dog or cat traveling aboard this rescue flight, which is urgently needed to make space in local shelters for at-risk pets who wouldn’t otherwise receive care. Donations of up to $150,000 will also be double matched by the John R Peterson Foundation, meaning every dollar you give actually yields $3 worth of impact. Thank you for helping needy animals during this very challenging time!
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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