Hundreds of shelter dogs, cats flown across the Pacific

Hundreds of dogs and cats from overcrowded Hawaii shelters are headed to less crowded facilities on the U.S. mainland

HONOLULU — More than 600 dogs and cats flew across the Pacific Ocean from crowded Hawaii shelters to Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, where there’s more space for them to await adoption — a charity operation that organizers said is the largest pet rescue flight.

The furry friends arrived in Seattle Thursday morning on a chartered Hercules C-130 plane. The rescue flight was necessary because the coronavirus pandemic has led to overcrowding in Hawaii pet shelters.

“Lots of kittens,” said Douglas Carroll, spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, which helped coordinate the effort.

He noted that some owners no longer being able to afford their pets because of economic struggles caused by the pandemic has contributed to crowded Hawaii shelters.

Carroll watched Wednesday night as masked workers loaded the carriers of various sizes holding the animals into the plane. Veterinarians wearing scrubs accompanied the animals to keep them safe and healthy, he said.

“The Paws Across the Pacific flight is urgently needed to make space in Hawaii’s shelters for at-risk pets who otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive necessary care to survive,” said Liz Baker, CEO of Greater Good Charities.