Paws Across Pacific: Historic animal rescue flight provides hundreds of Hawaii shelter animals with forever homes

Pets and Animals

HONOLULU (KHON) – Hawaii’s animal shelters have taken on a major challenge due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wings of Aloha transfer program that provides off island adoptions has been on pause for the last six months.

“While we have seen an increase in local adoptions, it’s not nearly enough to keep up with the intake that we’ve had at the shelter,” said Mirah Horowitz, the Kauai Humane Society Executive Director.

Wings of Rescue and Greater Good Charities came up with the perfect solution: the largest pet rescue flight in history. More than 600 dogs and cats from five shelters across Hawaii are receiving a second chance.

On Wednesday, dozens of staff, volunteers, and foster families worked day and night to prepare their furry friends for a safe flight.

“Making sure they’ve got their special ice water dishes, their special travel food, their special travel medicine, everything,” said Nikki Russel, Maui Humane Society Director of Community Outreach.

“It’s complex, but you have to do it to pull off something so historic and momentous like this,” said Daniel Roselle, Hawaiian Humane Society Director of Community Relations.

The Paws Across Pacific flight was months in the making. Greater Good Charities’ goal was to relieve as many shelters on each island as possible.

“It will start on Kauai then it will move to Maui, where we have another plane coming in from Lanai,” said Denise Bash of Greater Good Charities. “We will pick up those animals, we will make our way to Oahu and pick up Honolulu’s animals and then we will make it over to the Big Island where we have two organizations waiting with those.”

Island by island, kennel by kennel, hundreds of shelter animals made their way into the massive Hercules C-130 plane.

The Paws Across Pacific Flight successfully landed in Seattle Thursday morning.

About 120 of the cats and dogs will continue their journey to shelters in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

“The exciting part is the sheer number of them that are already adopted,” Bash said.

“Those animals aren’t just landing and going to another shelter, but going into their forever home. That is just an amazing gift,” Russell said.

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