Call it Operation Puppy Lift.
The city’s Front Street Animal Shelter, with the help of a national nonprofit group, will be sending 50 of its dogs all the way to Idaho next week in hopes of finding them new homes.
The pups are scheduled to lift off from Sacramento Executive Airport in a private plane on Monday morning bound for the Idaho Humane Society in Boise, a “no kill” shelter where they are likely to be adopted, said Front Street director Gina Knepp.
The city shelter is overloaded with healthy dogs, and no longer puts animals to death because of a lack of space or time to care for them, Knepp said. So the facility has begun partnering with other shelters that can accommodate extra animals.
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Front Street typically receives 10,000 animals each year, she said, and the vast majority are never reclaimed by their owners. “Most arrive without a microchip, ID tag or license,” so reuniting them with their human companions is difficult, she said.
Sending dogs to other shelters across the country has become a good alternative, she said. The shelter also is aggressively marketing animals at community events and has ramped up “fostering” programs “to save as many lives as possible,” said Knepp.
As a result, the shelter’s “live release” rate has increased dramatically in recent years, to 82 percent for cats and 70 percent for dogs, she said.
Front Street has shipped animals to other cities before, but has never had a transfer “quite this large,” she said.
Most of the pups headed to Idaho are small dogs, including Chihuahuas, poodle mixes and terriers, Knepp said.
ABOUT THE GROUP
Operation Puppy Lift is being funded by the nonprofit group Wings of Rescue, based in Van Nuys. The group flies animals in private airplanes to rescue organizations up and down the West Coast. It claims to have saved more than 5,400 animals in recent years that likely would have been put to death at overcrowded shelters. Learn more at www.wingsofrescue.org.