Southwest Airlines Donate Staff and Flight Fees to Pets of Hurricane Maria

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Southwest Airlines might just become your favorite airline (if it isn’t already!)–as they’ve just helped transport the furriest victims of the damages Hurricane Maria brought to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, mutts from the streets are commonly called ‘satos.’ Those satos were heavily affected by the devastation Hurricane Maria brought last year as Puerto Rico was overwhelmed with damage. Hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of volunteer dollars from Mirah Horowitz’s rescue organization, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington, Virginia, have been put into these animals, and now, with some help from Southwest Airlines, they are looking for new and better lives.

Related: Little Dog Makes Big Impact After Hurricane Maria by Saving Her Human’s Life

Nearly half of Puerto Rico still has no power. Many are suffering without clean water and basic access to health care, and as a result, the shelters of San Juan are being overrun with the need to help animals whose owners can barely take care of themselves, much less their animals. Marie Angie Rivera is a shelter director of PR Animals, and she said that the owner surrenders broke her heart. To see owners give family members away because they wanted to be sure they were cared for tore at her heart, and made her determined to help her neighbors by helping their pets.

Horowitz has been after Southwest Airlines to donate an entire round-trip flight solely to rescue animals from the destroyed territory, and her months-long wait while Southwest worked the details out (mainly because evacuating people from the island took priority) finally came to an end on January 20 when they gave an entire flight to the rescue. Every aspect of the flight was donated by Southwest or their employees, who took the rescue mission without pay, and joined the volunteers on the plane to help take care of the animals on return.

Since Hurricane Maria hit, Lucky Dog has been working behind the scenes with Southwest Airlines to aid rescue animals…

Posted by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

They loaded the plane with supplies for people as well–cleaning wipes, trash bags and hygiene products, as well as supplies for animals that must stay behind, and the mission fully funded by the kindness and generosity of people brought back some of the luckiest animals.

Related: Virginia-Based Rescue Saves Over 300 Virgin Island Pets Affected by Hurricanes

On the plane, volunteers said that the Southwest Staff did all they could to accommodate them and the animals, and some even volunteered for the flight solely so they could find new furry family members of their own. Janice Goravica is a flight attendant whose Lab died about four years ago, and she was hoping to find her new fur baby on this rescue mission.

A black Lab named Coscu caught her eye, and she snuggled the entire trip.

Many of the rescues were adopted quickly from a Lucky Dog adoption event in Gaithersburg, MD, though there are a couple who were not adopted and can still be found on the Lucky Dog website.