Southwest Airlines flew dozens of orphaned dogs and cats from Houston to San Diego as part of a disaster relief effort for families displaced by Hurricane Harvey. The storm caused widespread flooding, at least 70 deaths in southeastern Texas, and forced thousands of people—and their pets—to flee their homes.
The Southwest Airlines flight for rescue animals was filled with 64 puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats, plus staff to care (and even cuddle) the animals during their journey. The airline flew the animals from Hurricane Harvey-ravaged Houston to San Diego on Sept. 5.
The airline partnered with the San Diego-based Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC), which will care for the animals until they’re adopted. Four medical personnel from HWAC flew to Texas last week to help the organization and provide medical care for shelter animals.
The overall relief effort was designed to help Operations Pets Alive!, a Houston organization. The rescued animals were already in Houston shelters when the hurricane hit. They were transported to San Diego to relieve strain on Houston’s shelters and allow OPA to make room for family pets whose owners are currently displaced from their homes.
“These are the silent victims,” Mike Arms, president of Helen Woodward Animal Center, said in a statement. “There are shelters that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey, without electricity, without supplies. Operation Pets Alive! has taken in an overwhelming number of orphan dogs and cats who had inhabited those shelters before the storm and were suddenly facing euthanasia simply because they had no place to go. We are honored to help save those lives and we are lucky to have incredible friends like Southwest to help make this all possible.”