Over the past couple weeks, Southwest Employees across the country have gone above and beyond aiding in relief efforts for southeast Texas communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey. In the midst of it all, we were reminded that humans are not the only victims of natural disasters.
Southwest teamed up with San Diego’s Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC) to help a local Houston organization, Operation Pets Alive! (OPA). Southwest operated an animal relief flight and flew more than 60 animals from Austin to San Diego that had been relocated from Houston shelters to allow OPA to make room for families' displaced pets.
A total of 64 animals boarded a retiring -300 aircraft and flew from Austin to San Diego. Because the aircraft was set to retire in Victorville, we didn’t have to worry about deep-cleaning the aircraft after this incredibly furry, and somewhat stinky, animal rescue flight.
The animal rescue flight was truly a Team effort—Network Operations routed the aircraft; Ground Operations determined the special weight and balances; regulations were followed to keep our furry Friends safe; our Austin Station coordinated special TSA clearances, carefully loaded our precious cargo on board, and secured the crates in the seats; our Flight Crew got us safely to San Diego and soothed the animals in the air; and our San Diego Team swiftly coordinated our arrival and met the animals off the plane with vans for transportation to Helen Woodward Animal Center. This is something we should all be proud of!
This was Southwest's second animal relief flight working alongside Helen Woodward Animal Center to transport shelter animals out of areas devastated by natural disasters. In 2012, Southwest was able to transport more than 40 animals from Newark to San Diego after Hurricane Sandy.
The shelter animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey will remain under the care of Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego and will be available for adoption in the following weeks. If you’d like to make a difference in your hometown, consider volunteering at your local animal shelter—you might even find your FUR-ever soul mate!