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Flying shelter pets abroad to help them find forever homes

"These are happy tears"
Posted at 2:40 PM, Feb 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-27 17:40:40-05

Giving our pets another chance at finding a loving home: that’s what the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center and other organizations did Saturday morning, to help pets who have been in local shelters for too long, find families that can care for them.

“These are happy tears,” said Julie Johnson, executive director of the CBACC. She was “emotional” as 23 dogs who were in the animal shelter for too long, were transported to Calgary, a city in Canada.

Johnson adds that taking the pets abroad was made possible because of a partnership with the organization, Wings of Rescue. “I can’t thank everybody enough.”

Ric Browde, President of Wings of Rescue, said the group works to fly large scale transports of at-risk shelter pets from overcrowded shelters and disaster areas to shelters where there’s empty kennel space and where there are no local shelter pets displaced by their flights. He says that’s why the animals had to go to Canada because most cities and shelters across the US are already crowded.

Back in 2020, Wings of Rescue helped transport 9,245 pets, and help them find their forever homes. Of that, 6,950 were dogs, 2,233 cats, 23 rabbits, 38 guinea pigs and one 3- legged mouse as well.

Johnson says the dogs will go straight from that plane into homes where families will adopt or foster them. “There’s no stopping at another shelter,” she adds.

Both Johnson and Browde said these flights to help transport shelter pets used to happen every few months, but the pandemic changed that. “It’s the first time we’ve been in Bakersfield in about 2 and a half years,” Browde said.

But, Johnson says that even though these flights can save lives, they are not always available. That’s why she hopes that residents can take care of their pets and save the spots on planes for animals that really need the transport.

“This community has got to step up and stop letting their pets run loose, stop overbreeding, stop just thinking it’s cute as a puppy and then you can’t handle it as an adult,” she said.

Browde says the easiest ways to help keep our pets healthy and safe is through vaccinations, spay and neutering, and donating time, supplies, or money to local shelters to help them continue the work they are doing. He says the fact that these animals will soon have new homes is because of the hard work of the staff locally at the Bakersfield care center. “The people at the shelters are the real heroes of this flight.”

Johnson adds that ultimately, all of that hard work is worth it because that means these pets get a chance at a better life. “This flight is their life saving chance. These babies got another day, they’re living today because we had this flight.”