Nearly 600 dogs, cats airlifted from Hawaii to Seattle in ‘largest pet rescue flight ever’ as animals deal with overcrowded shelters

Muri Assunção, New York Daily News

Paws everything for a history-making flight.

Nearly 600 shelter dogs and cats arrived safely in Seattle, Wash. Thursday morning, after flying across the Pacific in the world’s “largest ever pet rescue flight,” according to Greater Good Charities, an organization that fights for the well-being of people, pets, and the planet.

The at-risk furry friends had to be transported to the mainland after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in a number of rescue shelters on five islands in Hawaii, by overcrowding the spaces and putting the lives of the animals at risk.

“Pet shelters in Hawaii are in a COVID-19 crisis,” Liz Baker, the CEO of Greater Good Charities, said in a statement.

“Normal operations have been affected by months of shut down, economic downturn, limited hours, and routine flights to mainland halted,” she added.

The unprecedented situation, then, required a similar never-before-seen type of response, according to the organization.

So, they decided to go big.

“We’ve moved animals like this before but no one’s ever done it on a big plane all at once before,” Denise Bash, Greater Good Charities disaster response director, told Hawaii News Now, adding that the project “is 100% a disaster response.”

The organization joined forces with Wings of Rescue, a donation-based charity that specializes in large-scale transports of pets from disaster areas to available shelters, and launched the Paws Across the Pacific initiative.

“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,” said Baker.

Local partners including the Kauai Humane Society, the Hawaiian Humane Society, the Lanai Cat Sanctuary and the Hawaii Island Humane Society helped the organization to fill up a chartered Hercules C-130 airplane with its “precious cargo of pets.”

To ensure that all pets arrived safely, Greater Good Charities worked in coordination with the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association.

On Wednesday, the trendsetting pets were picked up from the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii, and made their way to Seattle Wash., where rescuing groups from Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana welcomed them to their new lives.

They are now waiting to be adopted into their new forever homes.


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