HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Hawaiian Humane Society on Tuesday, a tiny dog named Cyrus was saying aloha to the Waialae Avenue shelter. And he wasn’t alone.
“We have a lot of pets,” communications director Daniel Roselle said.
On Wednesday, Cyrus and hundreds of dogs and cats from humane societies, shelters and animal sanctuaries across the state will be flown to the mainland in a move of historic proportions.
The Humane Society followed guidelines in deciding which animals would go.
“We looked at age. We just looked at general overall health. We looked at temperament. There are some obvious restrictions, including breed restrictions, in some places,” Roselle said.
Mainland organizations Greater Good Charities and Wings of Rescue call the animal airlift “Paws Across the Pacific.” It’s meant to free up space in Hawaii pet shelters so they can take in more at-risk animals.
“We’ve moved animals like this before but no one’s ever done it on a big plane all at once before,” said Denise Bash, Greater Good Charities disaster response director.
Working with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, more than 600 dogs and cats from across the state will board a large chartered aircraft.
It’s being called the largest animal airlift rescue in history.
Hawaiian Humane Society is contributing more than 100 animals to the airlift, and the vast majority of them are cats.
Bash said animal shelters across the United States have needed help adopting out dogs and cats since the pandemic disrupted their operations.
“This is 100% a disaster response,” she said.
The chartered flight will land in Seattle where the animals will be checked again by veterinarians before being sent to pet shelters in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, and then adopted.
“The reality is there’s so much demand that we think within a few days most of our pets will be happily in homes,” Roselle said.
Greater Good Charities has been working on the plan for months.
“All of the equipment that needed to come to Hawaii in order for those animals to be safely transported back had to get here way ahead of time for planning sake,” Bash said.
Besides getting Cyrus and the other furry and feline friends into forever homes, “Paws Across the Pacific” has given Greater Good Charities a blueprint for how to handle future animal emergencies.