Ninety dogs were rescued from certain death in high-kill Oklahoma animal pounds this month by Wings of Rescue, a volunteer organization that is on track to transport and save 12,000 animals this year, including the 200 cats who have been saved so far in February.
“They were all going to be euthanized, and some of them were literally going to be killed that day if we didn’t come and get them,” said Ric Browde, logistical director for Wings of Rescue, which relies on private pilots to fly animals from crowded, high-kill shelters to no-kill shelters that have waiting lists of people seeking to adopt pets. One woman, Vicky Smith of Shawnee, was responsible for the major Oklahoma rescue mission, he said.
In all, 745 animals have been given a second chance at life this month so far, with more flights scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. “We transported 200 cats this month alone,” said Browde. “At the rate we are going, we are on track to save 12,000 dogs and cats this year. And we could do more flights if we had more money!” February has been a big month for Wings of Rescue pilots, since all of the 90 dogs flown out of an Oklahoma City airport were scheduled to be euthanized.
“Getting those dogs and cats out of there was particularly gratifying,” said Browde. Five cats could not be flown out because their paperwork wasn’t in order, so they were placed in foster homes instead. All of the animals on the Wings of Rescue list were saved from death by gassing, lethal injection, or in some cases, being shot. “It happens in some rural areas,” said Browde. “A bullet only costs two cents.”
Many animal lovers in the general public do not realize that not all shelters are over crowded. Some even have waiting lists of people who want to adopt a dog or cat. “We heard from one shelter in the State of Washington that was completely empty,” he said. Wings of Rescue works with no-kill shelters with successful adoption programs who are actively looking for more dogs and cats, he said.
Photos, names and other details of the 90 dogs from Oklahoma were put on a list that was circulated to shelters in the State of Washington, he said. Almost all of them were large dogs of 50 pounds or more, he said. “Within 10 minutes, every last one of the dogs was spoken for.” After the dogs and cats arrive at the receiving shelters, they seldom remain more than three days before being adopted, he said.
In the case of the 90 Oklahoma dogs, all but two of them have been adopted and are sleeping in their new homes. And there’s more good news. “Several of the receiving shelters have already asked for more dogs and cats!”
Because the Oklahoma dogs were big, they all required extra-large crates. When Browde contacted Petmate in Arlington, Texas and asked to buy the crates, he was told the company would donate every single crate needed for the job. And when workers came up short of the number of crates needed on the ground, a husband of one of the volunteers got in his car and drove four hours to Arlington, Texas to pick up more Petmate crates, he said.
The pilots took off in cold weather and landed in pouring rain, but every plane landed safely and without incident. Browde said he went along and came back with bronchitis. “It makes it so much easier when you know the pets are being adopted into good homes, and that we saved more pets from being gassed or shot to death.” If you would like to help Wings of Rescue fly more of these precious pets to safety, please donate by going to wingsofrescue.org.