Just this Friday, about 1000 dogs and cats got a second chance at a new life, and I was lucky enough to witness the start of some of them. It was just about a year ago now that I photographed a Wings of Rescue Holiday Airlift that flew dogs and cats up here to Washington from California to find their new homes. I was blown away then at the sheer number of animals that arrived here, at the massive operation that goes on when all these rescues pull together to make this happen. Instead of animals facing euthanasia in overcrowded shelters in California, where overpopulation is a big problem, Wings of Rescue gives them a chance at a new life in other states, where adoption rates are higher.
First here are some images from the loading portion in CA, courtesy of Jim Nista
SO, Jim Nista, my pet photography contact in CA (and volunteer photographer at Long Beach Animal Care Services), sends me a message the evening before the mission asking me if I might meet the flight and take photos again. It then occurred to me that the rescue I volunteer my time taking cat photos at, Seattle Area Feline Rescue, just might have some cats on board, since we had started transferring in cats from CA (I found out we were expecting 11 cats on the flights). I would HAVE to go meet this year’s airlift and photograph the arrival.
*Images taken at Paine Field, Everett, WA. Note: Captions may look cut off on mobile, as opposed to on laptop/computer.
This year’s Home for the Holidays Airlift apparently broke the world record for the most animals flown to rescues in one day, close to 1000. It took 24 planes to do that, flying them to rescues in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Washington alone received about 400 animals; PAWS, the NOAH Center, Kitsap Humane Society, Skagit Humane, and Seattle Area Feline Rescue met the approximately 100 dogs and cats from the flights at Paine Field.
Here are just a couple of shots after we continued our journey onto the rescue…I ended up helping settle the cats in for the night. Luckily I’ll be able to follow up with these little ones soon.
Waiting to have cages set up for them.
Tabitha waits patiently. Well, sort of.
This kitten was in with another one until I realized they weren’t getting along, so they were separated. Then she was climbing the bars to get a better look at me. So we had to have a cuddle before I said goodnight.
I have so many thoughts and big feelings about this whole thing. I’m so grateful to the pilots who donate not just the use of their planes, but they also donate the fuel. I’m constantly grateful to volunteers at rescues and shelters everywhere for their tireless work with animals. I’m so glad there’s this massive effort to do something like this (and I know everyone involved wishes they could do even more). Yet, there’s always this frustration that there is such a need to have to move such a large amount of animals around to get them adopted. But it does feel good to know that we can come together to help find homes for dogs and cats like this. It’s really pretty amazing. Let’s keep being amazing, everyone!
Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet. ~Colette