More than 500 shelter dogs enjoyed a true Christmas Miracle at the Third Annual Wings of Rescue Holiday Airlift as they were whisked away to 11 cities in the Pacific Northwest aboard 14 flights leaving Van Nuys Airport (VNY) in Southern California.
Organizers called it the largest dog airlift in the West, according to a report in the VNY Newsletter.
“We either do it or the dogs die, so the choice is clear,” Woodland Hills real-estate developer Yehuda Netanel, a native of Israel and cofounder of Wings of Rescue, told the Daily News.
Since 2009, the organization has flown more than 6,000 Southern California shelter dogs to safety in the Pacific Northwest and Canada and organizes private pilots and planes to take the dogs to “forever” homes or rescue organizations where they will be adopted instead of euthanized.
The dogs – mostly Chihuahuas, terriers, and other small dogs that have overrun Southern California shelters – were all saved in the 11th hour before being put down, organizers say.
An army of volunteers from more than 120 rescue groups from the Greater Los Angeles region helped each dog board one of more than a dozen private planes that were lined up on the future Van Nuys Airport Propeller Park, with support donated by Pacific Aviation Development.
“I’m a dog lover, an aviation lover,” said Pacific owner Steve Argubright. “This is one of those things that general aviation (pilots) do.”
Pilots interested in participating in next year’s Wings of Rescue Holiday Airlift or fly a rescue mission any time next year can contact Yehuda Netanel at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to WingsOfRescue.org