TAC Air - FSM Helps Animals Get Chance at "Fur-ever" Homes

By Jadyn Watson-Fisher / Times Record

Posted Sep 29, 2018 at 12:01 AM / Updated Oct 1, 2018 at 3:04 PM

Big dogs, small dogs, fluffy cats and skinny cats from HOPE Humane Society all caught flights to new states, and some to new homes, this weekend.


TAC Air-FSM Employee

Raymond Rivera with TAC Air helps to load more than 70 animals from HOPE Humane Society in Fort Smith onto a “Wings of Rescue” plane at TAC Air-FSM. 
[BRIAN D. SANDERFORD/TIMES RECORD]
 


Wings of Rescue, a nonprofit based in California, transported approximately six dozen animals Friday morning to Idaho, said Humane Society interim director Raina Rodgers. The organization works to “fly shelter pets home,” relieving stress from overcrowded shelters and avoiding euthanization.

Big dogs, small dogs, fluffy cats and skinny cats from HOPE Humane Society all caught flights to new states, and some to new homes, this weekend.

Wings of Rescue, a nonprofit based in California, transported approximately six dozen animals Friday morning to Idaho, said Humane Society interim director Raina Rodgers. The organization works to “fly shelter pets home,” relieving stress from overcrowded shelters and avoiding euthanization.

Rodgers said the Wings of Rescue flight was scheduled for Sept. 21 but was postponed because of the group’s involvement with animal rescues following Hurricane Florence.

“They’re doing this awesome transport for us where they come and get them, they use their crates and then they fly away. Thank goodness,” Rodgers said.

Then on Saturday morning, thanks to about $15,000 in local donations, the Humane Society will send another group of animals to Oregon through the Oklahoma organization, Fetch Fido a Flight. Rodgers said the shelter needed sponsorships for the Fido flight because of the cost of renting a plane, pilot and paying fees to use airport facilities and transporting from one airspace to another.

These flights have been in the works for quite awhile, and despite having the opportunity to send a handful of pets on Fido flights for other shelters in the past, the Humane Society finally gets to participate in two air transports of its own.

“We have been approaching them for a long time,” Rodgers said. “There are a lot of other places that have a population problem, too, so sometimes you just have to wait your turn.”

Animals submitted for transport, 76 for the first flight and 176 for the second, were proven to be in good health, met the receiving shelters’ requirements and many already have adopters. Rodgers said the Humane Society sent photos and videos of the available pets with their information, allowing the receiving organizations to pre-adopt them. Pets who have not been pre-adopted will live with foster families as the shelters work to find permanent homes, Rodgers said.

Rodgers said the shelter does driving transports multiple times a month, but like local adopters, many of their partner shelters want small animals. The flight heading to Oregon, however, featured a large number of pit bulls and pit bull mixes due to the state’s openness toward the breed.

“A lot of other rescues — certain states and cities have certain rules — and unfortunately, in this generation, it’s the pits that have a bad rap,” Rodgers said. “Fortunately, for the Fetch Fido a Flight, they don’t mind pits and pit mixes in Oregon, so we’re getting out as many of those as possible.”

The flights are significant for all Fort Smith residents, Rodgers said. Some people might not notice the animal overpopulation because animal control officers tend to bring them in before they cause too many issues, but it doesn’t negate the situation.

“We have to try to get them taken care of, make sure they’re healthy and get them re-adopted to responsible people, and there are just so many,” Rodgers said. “It’s important for everyone to understand what we’re doing over here and why these flights are so important, so that we’re not all swimming in animals all the time.”

Rodgers said the Humane Society had about 547 dogs and 230 cats in its care about a week ago. The adoption center itself is really the only area that doesn’t have animals covering most of the floor space. These flights will give the shelter some relief as it passes 200 pets to new homes and shelters in need of adoptable animals.

“It’s a really good thing,” Rodgers said. “We’re hoping this will build us relationships that we can use continually, because, unfortunately, our population problem is not going to be solved by a couple of flights. It will be helped, and we’re so grateful, but we could probably do a flight every month.”

Rodgers said the Wings of Rescue flight was scheduled for Sept. 21 but was postponed because of the group’s involvement with animal rescues following Hurricane Florence.

“They’re doing this awesome transport for us where they come and get them, they use their crates and then they fly away. Thank goodness,” Rodgers said.

Then on Saturday morning, thanks to about $15,000 in local donations, the Humane Society will send another group of animals to Oregon through the Oklahoma organization, Fetch Fido a Flight. Rodgers said the shelter needed sponsorships for the Fido flight because of the cost of renting a plane, pilot and paying fees to use airport facilities and transporting from one airspace to another.

These flights have been in the works for quite a while, and despite having the opportunity to send a handful of pets on Fido flights for other shelters in the past, the Humane Society finally gets to participate in two air transports of its own.

“We have been approaching them for a long time,” Rodgers said. “There are a lot of other places that have a population problem, too, so sometimes you just have to wait your turn.”

Animals submitted for transport, 76 for the first flight and 176 for the second, were proven to be in good health, met the receiving shelters’ requirements and many already have adopters. Rodgers said the Humane Society sent photos and videos of the available pets with their information, allowing the receiving organizations to pre-adopt them. Pets who have not been pre-adopted will live with foster families as the shelters work to find permanent homes, Rodgers said.

Rodgers said the shelter does driving transports multiple times a month, but like local adopters, many of their partner shelters want small animals. The flight heading to Oregon, however, featured a large number of pit bulls and pit bull mixes due to the state’s openness toward the breed.

“A lot of other rescues — certain states and cities have certain rules — and unfortunately, in this generation, it’s the pits that have a bad rap,” Rodgers said. “Fortunately, for the Fetch Fido a Flight, they don’t mind pits and pit mixes in Oregon, so we’re getting out as many of those as possible.”

The flights are significant for all Fort Smith residents, Rodgers said. Some people might not notice the animal overpopulation because animal control officers tend to bring them in before they cause too many issues, but it doesn’t negate the situation.

“We have to try to get them taken care of, make sure they’re healthy and get them re-adopted to responsible people, and there are just so many,” Rodgers said. “It’s important for everyone to understand what we’re doing over here and why these flights are so important, so that we’re not all swimming in animals all the time.”

Rodgers said the Humane Society had about 547 dogs and 230 cats in its care about a week ago. The adoption center itself is really the only area that doesn’t have animals covering most of the floor space. These flights will give the shelter some relief as it passes 200 pets to new homes and shelters in need of adoptable animals.

“It’s a really good thing,” Rodgers said. “We’re hoping this will build us relationships that we can use continually, because, unfortunately, our population problem is not going to be solved by a couple of flights. It will be helped, and we’re so grateful, but we could probably do a flight every month.”