More than 130 shelter cats and dogs from Kahului have been airlifted to a shelter in Portland, Oregon, to make room for animals displaced by wildfires in Maui.
The emergency airlift operation was carried out by Southwest Airlines in partnership with Greater Good Charities, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, and the Maui Humane Society.
Southwest Airlines employees and crew members helped transport 136 shelter cats and dogs in secure carriers and crates in the aircraft cabin of a Boeing 737-800.
Once in Portland, the shelter cats and dogs will continue their journey toward finding a new forever home.
The Associated Press reported that an estimated 3,000 animals from Lahaina are lost or missing. Southwest’s animal transport will make room for these animals to be placed in Maui’s shelters.
“Our Hearts are with the people of Hawaii and the communities that are affected by the wildfires, and we have many efforts underway across the company to offer our assistance and support,” Laura Nieto, Managing Director Corporate Responsibility at Southwest Airlines said in a media statement.
“In addition to supporting local and national relief organizations to bring aid to Maui, Southwest and our Employees have put their Hearts into action to join this effort to transport shelter cats and dogs in-cabin to the mainland in hopes of finding forever homes,” Nieto added.
A licensed veterinarian accompanied the flight to Portland and all the cats and dogs will be evaluated and receive any follow-up medical care needed before being put up for adoption.
The Maui wildfires started in early August 2023, and have so far displaced at least 11,000 people, and damaged $5.5 billion worth of property. 114 lives have been claimed.