Good news spreads fast! Nearly every orphaned pet taken to Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC) in Rancho Santa Fe, California, after Hurricane Sandy has now settled happily into new forever homes.
Even though their facilities are emptier, their hearts remain full knowing that each of the loving pets will now have the home that they deserve and that there are big-hearted organizations that exist out there that helped to transport these pets to safety. Their kindness and generosity will not be forgotten!
Today HWAC is presented Southwest Airlines with it prestigious Humane Award. The award was developed to honor a person or an entity that has made a significant positive impact on the animal welfare world, devoting time and energy and the resources needed to improve the quality of life for orphaned animals. Not only are the members of Southwest Airlines a wonderful group of individuals, they have become amazing friends!
The award will be presented by HWAC President and CEO Mike Arms and the Vice President of Development Renee Resko. The couple has travelled to Dallas, Texas in order to meet with and present the 2013 Humane Award to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and the Southwest Employees. The presentation will be made at the organization’s Winning Spirit Awards, concluding with the prestigious distinction honoring the entire Southwest team who assisted with the November 2012 Hurricane Sandy rescue of 47 orphan pets.
The story of rescue was nationally publicized as stranded orphaned canines and felines (from Save-A-Pet on Long Island and from New Jersey shelters rescued by Delaware County SPCA) were flown across the country to Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe on November 17th. Each rescued pet had been awaiting their forever homes on the East Coast when the nasty storm hit and left their facilities uninhabitable.
The remaining East Coast shelters quickly became loaded to capacity. They were unable to provide the needed resources required for all of the homeless pets that were once again displaced. Enter Helen Woodward Animal Center!
The Center contacted the appropriate individuals but they still lacked the resources needed to transport the orphaned pets all the way to the West Coast. The missing link arrived in an impressive 48-hour turn-around with a chartered plane coordinated by Center friend, John Reilly, President of Sea World San Diego, and donated by the generous leadership at Southwest Airlines. BP who provides Southwest’s fuel donated nearly 5,000 gallons of fuel to the life-saving flight, as well. The Southwest aircraft was staffed with an animal-loving crew of pilots and flight attendants, each of whom donated their time and hearts to the homeless dogs and cats.
Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach credited the entire team with the emotional rescue. “Helping these animals find their forever homes and making room for the many animals displaced by the Hurricane is something we were happy to do, but wouldn’t have been possible without the generous spirit of our Employees and partners.”
It is not hard to believe that over time a unique bond developed between HWAC and Southwest Airlines. The local Southwest employees are truly devoted to locating homes for homeless pets, donating their manpower and immeasurable hours to various Helen Woodward fundraisers. They have participated in the Puppy Love 5K Run/Walk and the annual Spring Fling Gala. Due to this generosity, friendships have been formed and their consistent dedication has not wavered.
The Humane Award is presented annually by Helen Woodward Animal Center President, Mike Arms, to a person or entity that has made a significant positive impact on the animal welfare world – devoting their time, energy, and resources to improving the quality of life for orphaned animals. Past recipients include Kristen Bell, Diane Keaton, Betty White, Tippi Hedren, and Linda Blair. This year’s presentation is a very personal one for those who were there to see the homeless pets carried off the aircraft in the arms of Southwest Employees and ultimately delivered into the arms of forever families.
“We are honored to be included in this employee recognition event,” stated Center Vice President of Development Renee Resko. “It’s an incredible group of people and we feel privileged to honor the individuals who made this rescue possible.”
If you would like more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center or about the Hurricane Sandy rescues, please contact PR Manager Jessica Gercke at (858) 756-4117 x 335 or log on to www.animalcenter.org. You may also stop by in person at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.