By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)
Oct. 10, 2020 (El Cajon-Gillespie Field) Over one hundred dogs were flown from Louisiana to Gillespie Field in El Cajon by an emergency animal rescue organization, Wings of Rescue, on October 10 in anticipation of Hurricane Delta’s hit on the Gulf Coast state. The San Diego Humane Society will provide medical care until the rescued dogs are ready for adoption locally.
This is the second time in less than a month that local animal welfare organizations have offered help to evacuate animals from Louisiana. The transport aimed to create space in shelters there for pets anticipated to be displaced from the hurricane. Wings of Rescue is a 501(c)(3) charity, founded in 2012, that flies endangered pets from where they are, to other shelters/homes. Circle Air Group, LLC’s plane, at Gillespie Field, used their equipment, an Embraer EMB-120, to fly the dogs in.
Hurricane Delta fluctuated from a category 2 to 3 and the outer rings hit southeast Louisiana and southeast Missouri on Friday and into the weekend as well. Visit: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ for current information. Here is a summary of the situation as of October 10:
How did the dogs do on take-off?
“Got a little noisy, but once we got to altitude, they were fine,” said co-pilot Larry Southern, a pilot for Circle Air. “A little stinky.” The flight from Hammond, Louisiana, with one stop-over in San Angelo, Texas and then to El Cajon, took five hours according to Southern.
“Due to road congestion as people evacuated, the pets did not arrive on time, so the flight was behind schedule,” said Nina Thompson, interim director, marketing & communications for the San Diego Humane Society via email.
“We’ve had a partnership with Wings of Rescue for a couple of years,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president, and ceo of the San Diego Humane Society. SDHS mobilized other animal shelters in the county, and volunteers, to pull off this emergency evacuation of the pets. “They are just recovering from Hurricane Laura and now there is an even bigger threat. When we all work together, we can help more animals and that’s what we are here for,” Weitzman responded via an email.
Weitzman cited the shelters working to pick up these dogs, straight off the plane, including Rancho Coastal Humane Society, Labs and Friends, Chula Vista Animal Care Facility, and County of San Diego-Department of Animal Services in Bonita.
“An animal emergency is an animal emergency, no matter where or when it happens,” said Rancho Coastal Humane Society president and La Mesa resident, Judi Sanzo in an email. “Hurricane-ravaged Louisiana called for help — just weeks after the last airlift brought 104 animals to San Diego. RCHS will join its shelter partners in making room for the newest arrivals,” said Sanzo.
“We took 28 dogs and 18 cats,” she said of the last emergency hurricane evacuation. “Right now, we have 9 dogs and 6 cats left from that evacuation.”
Vans, trucks, and other vehicles were positioned to load the dogs from right off the plane, into the vehicles filled with crates to rush them to the shelters.
If you are interested in adopting any of these dogs visit the websites of all participating agencies to start the process.
For perspective on what is happening, in part, in the hurricane zone visit this link: https://findingrover.com/lost
Tips were offered to residents there on how to prepare for hurricanes and the care of their pets:
If you are interested in adopting any of these dogs visit the websites of all participating agencies to start the process. Note Covid-19 procedures are in effect at facilities.