More than 100 dogs and cats are hoping to catch a flight from overflowing shelters in the Memphis area to facilities in the Northwest where they'll quickly find new homes.
While so many animal shelters are packed with homeless pets, in some parts of the country there are waiting lists of people looking for dogs and cats to adopt. That's why groups like Wings of Rescue take healthy pets from crowded shelters and fly them to no-kill facilities throughout the United States and Canada.
Their next passenger list includes 110 pets from the West Memphis Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of the Delta in nearby Helena, Arkansas. On May 3, they plan to fly them to no-kill shelters including the Kootenai Humane Society in Hayden, Idaho, and SpokAnimal in Spokane, Washington.
Since the nonprofit was created in 2012, more than 26,000 pets have been flown to new shelters for a chance at finding homes. They are taken by volunteer pilots who fly in their own planes, as well as chartered cargo planes. The goal is to fly 12,000 pets in 2017.
The flight from the Memphis area to the Northwest will cost about $18,000. As of this writing, they still need $7,500 to make the trip. Sites like Freekibble help users donate to the "Flight to Freedom" and partner with Halo Pets to provide dog food to the shelters receiving the pets.
The reason the system works, the organization points out, is because of donations, partnerships and volunteers.
Pilot Cassandra Schultz wrote about her first volunteer experience, "After some quick flight planning and fueling, we were ready to go. As I looked back at the load of anxious passengers from the cockpit, I wanted to brief them. I wanted to tell them how long the flight was and to expect some bad weather. I wanted to pet every single one them and tell them that they were all going to be OK. But I couldn’t. I just stared at their fearful faces wishing they understood that they were given another chance to live."