Dozens of dogs have been flown out of the Santa Barbara Airport on private planes to no-kill shelters in Idaho, Oregon and Montana.
Wings of Rescue, The Dog Adoption Welfare Group, and Santa Barbara County Animal Services worked together to make the first organized rescue flight of some 72 dogs out of the airport a success.
The Dog Adoption Welfare Group or DAWG, raised $6,250 to pay for the transportation of 37 dogs from Santa Barbara County shelters and 14 of its own dogs. Some dogs were also brought in from Los Angeles for Saturday's flight.
Morgan Flint, the DAWG Shelter Program Manager said, "We actually have open kennels, in our county shelters and in our rescue. Empty kennels means we can take in more dogs and hopefully not have to euthanize as many. This is all about saving lives. The more we can do these transports, the more we get funding for them, the more lives we can save."
Wings of Rescue is a non-profit organization founded by Yehuda Netanel. He has a network of volunteer pilots who offer their time and planes for the flights. Wings of Rescue says it has already saved thousands of dogs. Netanel says the dogs are sometimes scared to fly at first. "In the beginning, they have an opinion or two about the level of services. But then they settle in and fall asleep. Once they touch the ground they get busy again telling us that they are excited."
On Saturday, Netanel, two pilots and dozens of volunteers loaded dogs, both little and big, into three planes. The dogs were flown to less crowded shelters in the Northwest where they are in high demand and have a better chance of being adopted. Paula Bird is a volunteer for Wings of Rescue. She said, "These dogs are the lucky ones, they are going to be adopted within the next 48 hours."
Santa Barbara County Animal Services has partnered with DAWG before. But, this was the first time it has worked with Wings of Rescue. The county says its shelters are overflowing with dogs. "This has made a huge impact and helped us to move out some dogs that have been sitting in our shelters, some over a year," said Stacy Silva, a representative for Animal Services.
All three groups agree there is more work to be done and a push is underway to make these rescue flights happen more often. Santa Barbara County Animal Services says it will release more dogs from its shelters, if enough money can be raised for their flights.
For more information about Wings of Rescue click here
For more information about DAWG click here
For more information about Santa Barbara County Animal Services click here