The ongoing devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey and Friday’s impact from Hurricane Irma have wreaked havoc on animal shelters in Houston and Florida, overcrowding them and forcing the relocation of pets all across the country – many of them ending up in California.
The result? Flight cabins filled with scores of cats and dogs, like one flown by Southwest Airlines that took 80 animals from Houston to San Diego on Tuesday, The Huffington Post reported this week.
Southwest Airlines volunteers and animal rescue groups helped load and manage the cabin, according to The Huffington Post. The animals were taken in by the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe.
Coordinating with Florida shelters, donation-based charities like Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation and Wings of Rescue planned to fly about 650 pets out of Irma’s path over a two-day span, bringing them to the ARF shelter in Walnut Creek, the East Bay SPCA in Oakland and Dublin, and Berkeley Humane, The Mercury News reported on Wednesday.
Using a chartered jet paid for with a single $12,000 donation, Karma Rescue flew 34 dogs from Texas shelters to Orange County on Saturday, according to The OC Register. Those dogs were picked up by volunteers on the tarmac, to be adopted out in the Los Angeles area.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that animals relocated to Bay Area shelters are given a few days to rest before being given a behavior assessment. Animals that fail cannot be put up for adoption.
While pets are being moved cross-country, several Florida zoos plan to hunker down and ride out the storm – which appears to be their safest option, experts say.