Photos by Asia Morris. Full gallery below.
This morning at 9:00AM, nearly 150 dogs from Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) and other displaced pets from Los Angeles County Shelters were loaded gingerly into their crates and lifted via an assembly line of hard working volunteers into a small airplane. This life-saving air transport will relocate the sheltered animals to the Pacific Northwest where more kennel space is available and adopters are waiting eagerly to give them forever homes.
Funded through the generous donations of the Bark Avenue Foundation, Wings of Rescue, Shelter Me and the pilot’s volunteered time, this flight was one of several this July that gave hundreds of unwanted shelter pets a chance to keep living.
Ted Stevens, Long Beach Animal Care Services Shelter Manager, spoke about how these rescue flights are just one of the solutions for reducing pet overpopulation in Long Beach. “We get to find homes for these animals, it opens up space in our shelter. This time of year, summertime, we’re overcrowded and we run out of kennel space, so this helps us free up some of those spaces,” Stevens said.
The rescue flight, departing from FliteServ’s Terminal at the Long Beach Airport, will land in Washington today, where the dogs will then be transported to four different shelters throughout the Pacific Northwest. Stevens said that farther North, “there’s an actual demand and shortage of supply for smaller dogs under 25 lbs,” unlike Southern California, which has an overabundance of these pint-sized pets.
Not only did the LBACS and Los Angeles County Shelters deliver animals to be transported, but several private animal fosterers came to FliteServ’s terminal to make sure the pets they had found and nursed back to health were loaded safely on board.
Susan Olsen’s eyes watered on the tarmac as she said her last goodbyes to Lila and Kilani, two dogs she fostered after they had been abandoned. “Someone brought [Lila] to me from San Bernardino city, she was ‘pulled’ from there, is the term, and this boy I went and picked out at Carson,” Olsen said. Olsen said she was going to wait until the very last minute to put Lila, a chihuahua terrier mix and Kilani, a Pomeranian spaniel mix, into their crates.
Carol Ferrell found Zeke and his sister, both Chihuahua mixes, running down a four lane road in Fontana at seven in the morning. Ferrell said, “I sat down in the grass in my work clothes, I made chirping noises and he came right to me. His sister was harder to catch. She squiggled out of my arms and I had to keep driving down the street until I could get her.”
Stevens explained that although these rescue flights are heart-warming attempts to save these animals, “It’s not the solution[...] the solution is to spay and neuter to reduce overpopulation and, you know, there’s a lot of animals that didn’t make it on this flight that are still waiting at the shelter for homes. We still want to encourage people to come to the shelter and adopt, rather than shopping someplace else.”