Española shelter dogs wing it to Hamptons

Nov. 25—A litter of wiggly puppies from Española Humane recently boarded a private plane to take them to a luxurious new life in the Hamptons.

"They were born in somebody's yard, and that person surrendered the mom and nine puppies to the shelter," said Mattie Allen, a spokesperson for Española Humane.

After a 3,300-mile flight across the country, the pups and their mom — believed to be a German shepherd and husky mix — are at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in New York, also known as ARF, waiting to be adopted by loving families.

Though the Hamptons, in an area of Long Island, N.Y., used to have a homeless dog population, ARF CEO Scott Howe said the organization helped solve the problem through its spay and neuter program, which began nearly 50 years ago.

Now its no-kill adoption center has plenty of space to take in wayward pooches from all over the country.

The pups and their mom took a little bit of their home state to New York with their New Mexico-themed names: Blue Corn, Biscochito, Ristra, Yucca, Piñon, Osha, Sopapilla, Frijoles, Chamisa and mama Zia.

Howe said people have already started showing interest in adopting the dogs, even though they aren't quite ready for new families.

"People have heard of the story. They've seen photos on social media, and they're filling out applications and they're calling us asking for the New Mexico puppies," Howe said. "The puppies will definitely be home for the holidays, and the mom, too."

Allen said knowing there is a waiting list for the dogs takes a huge weight off her and the shelter's shoulders.

"Right now, we just got overwhelmed with more puppies in the last couple of days," Allen said.

"Knowing that these nine little fluffy babies and their mama are going to be scooped up so quickly and go to wonderful homes that can offer them the very best of care — it just feels like a huge sense of relief and gratitude for the generosity and the heart of the pilot's spirit of adventure," Allen added.

This rags-to-riches story was made possible by Dr. George Dempsey, a physician and pilot from the Hamptons who noticed Española Humane was in dire need of help.

Dempsey said he was visiting his brother, who is a veterinarian at the shelter, and was astounded by the overwhelming number of puppies in need of a home.

"There were 54 puppies, and I've never seen so many puppies in one place," Dempsey said. "I'm going, 'Wait a minute, we can barely get puppies [at

ARF].' "

When he got back home, Dempsey told his brother about his "crazy idea" to fly his Cessna 182 across the country to pick up some of the dogs and take them to back to New York.

"We kind of chuckled about it, but then they started taking this seriously. I talked to the ARF group here, and it just kind of clicked," Dempsey said.

Unfortunately, Dempsey's small plane was only able to take a few pooches at a time. That's why ARF enlisted the help of the Four Legged Flyers — a nonprofit organization that helps shelter dogs get to their forever homes.

Pilots Matthew Pellegrino and Jan Brentjens boarded their plane with seven of the puppies Nov. 19.

Dempsey took off with the remaining two pups and mother Zia the next day.

About two days later, all 10 of the jet-lagged pooches had made it to the Hamptons, getting some much-deserved rest.

"I'm just hopeful that I can continue this," Dempsey said. "What I did is a pretty event, but there's still so much need."