In the wake of Hurricane Ian and Fiona, dogs without homes have been airlifted from Florida and Puerto Rico to shelters in southwest Michigan.
On Sunday, October 9th, about 124 homeless pets from the Sato Project in Puerto Rico and the Human Society in Naples, Florida embarked on a flight to Chicago. After touching down, 24 sheltered dogs were transported to Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, where they have since been received by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Southwest Michigan. The pets are expected to be ready for adoption within a week.
Executive Director Kate Timber said that their shelter was full before the transport but stressed the importance of making more room. “Right now, shelters nationally are in a state of crisis with limited access to veterinary care — national adoptions are down,” she said. “We understand the gravity of how Hurricane Ian really affected the shelters… And we know that we’ll be able to place these dogs and good homes in our Michigan communities that really make a difference.”
The effort was a collaboration between the BISSELL Pet Foundation and Wings of Rescue in partnership with PetSmart Charities. Wings of Rescue airlifted nearly 400 pets out of areas affected by Hurricane Ian and Fiona.
In a statement, President Ric Browde of Wings of Rescue said, “It is a privilege for us to now team up with Bissell Pet Foundation and PetSmart Charities to fly even more pets from stricken communities to locations where they will find new, loving homes.”
Cathy Bissell, founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, said, “Shelters are full across the country, and we are grateful for the organizations making room for shelter pets from Florida and Puerto Rico during this difficult time.”
The SPCA of Southwest Michigan was founded in 2011 with the goal of reducing the number of animals without homes and living in shelters. Since their founding, the foundation has partnered with 5,600 shelters and rescues across the United States and Canada to find homes for their four-legged friends.
Timber was there personally to help unload the rescues from the plane and noted that though many were uneasy or frightened, they eventually showed their trust and excitement through their wagging tails.
“I’m always so moved at how kind and loving and resilient they can be, because today is really looking at an animal and its most vulnerable state,” she said. “They’ve been through a hurricane. They’ve been on a plane they’ve been — who knows where they originated from, and yet, they can still show us that affection and love. So it is just a privilege to do the work that I get to do.”
If you’re interested in fostering a pet or if you just want more information, the SPCA can be reached on their website and by phone at 269-344-1474.