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Sato Pride: Southwest Airline's Humanitarian Animal Rescue Flight with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue

LindaRutherford Employee

shelley-castle-photography-PRtransfer-5521.jpgPhoto by Shelley Castle PhotographyOn Saturday, Southwest flew its third humanitarian animal rescue flight, our final leg flying from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Baltimore/Washington. It all started with a call to Southwest from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, an animal rescue organization based in the D.C. area. Their partner in Puerto Rico, PR Animals, was in dire need to help relocate animals off the island after many were impacted by Hurricane Maria.


Due to the tremendous impact Hurricane Maria had on our People in Puerto Rico and our operation, it took many months of planning before we felt our operation and SJU Station could accommodate an extra humanitarian flight. It takes incredible Teamwork and collaboration across the Company to organize a relief flight, especially one carrying furry PAW-sengers. We appreciate the Teams from Baltimore and San Juan who coordinated logistics with TSA, the Airport Authorities, and many more groups in order to make this flight a reality.


Capture.JPGPhotos by Shelley Castle Photography

Sato Pride was the motto of the day. Sato means stray, and foster families took in these stray dogs to care for them until they were able to be rescued. These families brought these beloved animals to the airport to send them on a trip of a lifetime. It’s hard to imagine what some of these rescue animals endured these past few months, but they were surely loved by the brave families who fostered and kept them safe until it was time to em-BARK on their new journey.


shelley-castle-photography-PRtransfer-5302.jpgPhoto by Shelley Castle Photography

You may be wondering, how did we transport these animals? We don’t carry warm-blooded animals in our Cargo hold, and that held true for our animal rescue flights. Each animal was boarded in the cabin of the aircraft in a crate which was secured into seats with seatbelt extenders. In addition to a very attentive Flight Crew and volunteers, a vet was present and monitoring the animals during flight.  

Many of the animals are available for adoption through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. Learn more about these dogs and cats by visiting or take a look back at their big journey from San Juan to Baltimore/Washington by visiting their Facebook Page @LuckyDogAnimalRescue or Instagram via @DCLuckyDog.


Capture1.JPGPhotos by Shelley Castle Photography

One more shout out goes to our Southwest Airlines Cargo® Team at BWI. Over the past few months, in partnership with Lucky Dog, our Cargo Teams shipped more than 10,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies, including dog food and necessities to take care of these animals until we were able to coordinate the animal rescue flight. An additional 14,000 pounds of supplies were sent down on the humanitarian flight from Baltimore this past Saturday, which included pet supplies and human supplies to help with continued relief efforts.


Seeing our Employees come together and donate their time to make an effort such as this happen, make me so proud to work for Southwest Airlines. It’s no wonder we’ve once again been named to Fortune’s World’s Most Admired List. We are often asked why we do these efforts, and simply put, because at Southwest, we lead with Heart.


shelley-castle-photography-PRtransfer-60 (1).jpgPhoto by Shelley Castle Photography

1 Comment
New Arrival

Very beautiful story. I plan to become a flying veterinarian and/or start a flying rescue center. As an aviation and animal lover this story came close to my heart. Thank you very much for sharing