SAN ANGELO, Texas — It took a village to fly more than 50 dogs and 11 cats from a crowded West Texas animal shelter to their forever homes on the East Coast. Dogs and cats from Concho Valley PAWS were sent on a plane with the help of Wings of Rescue to make their way to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Maine.
Concho Valley PAWS Executive Director Jenie Wilson said this was the first time the shelter sent out this large number of pets via a plane.
“It was a lot of work getting it all together but I'm really proud of my team at paws, the ladies there worked countless hours to make sure that we got all of these animals prepared for transport by air. They had to be certified with health certificates by a licensed vet and they had to be fully vaccinated and then getting all the paperwork in order and so they were ready to go,” Wilson said.
Some of the dogs sent from the San Angelo shelter had been there for more than 800 days. Wilson said some of the long stay dogs will have a home before they even get off the plane.
“We’re not a large community and we don't have a lot of adopters for large breed dogs yet that's what we see continually fill the shelters so this is a great opportunity for those dogs to have a different audience of adopters to consider them,” Wilson said.
The Animal Refuge of Greater Portland will be receiving the animals from the Concho Valley Paws. Shady is one of the long stay dogs that has been at the San Angelo shelter for more than two years.
“The cool thing about our shelter in southern Maine is we have adopters coming in and every day, they line up at our doors every morning to adopt so to welcome Shady, I anticipate that he will be able to find a home very quickly here which is kind of the exciting part of a collaboration like this to celebrate each animal and to find them that new beginning,” Animal Refuge of Greater Portland Director of Community Engagement, Jeana Roth, said.
Roth said she would like to continue collaborating with Concho Valley PAWS in the near future and find more homes for the animals at San Angelo’s shelter.
“I think for us we know that the key to saving lives in shelters across the country is this collaboration, you know there are a lot of shelters in the northeast with empty kennels and we have adopters here excited and waiting to welcome animals into their homes,” Roth said.
Wings of Rescue Flight is a non-profit air transportation organization dedicated to help place at-risk pets in disasters and overcrowded shelters into a receiving home.
CEO and President Ric Browde said donations from strangers have helped cover the cost of transportation for thousands of pets since the flights first started in 2012.
"It’s not cheap flying these pets but it’s worth it and these overlooked pets in San Angelo Texas who had a very grim future ahead of them now are going to be probably within the next three or four days on somebody's sofa where they belong," Browde said.
Upon arrival, the dogs and cats will be spending a couple of days in foster homes until they find their permanent homes.