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WATCH: Paws Across the Pacific, a Historic Pet Rescue Mission

This year, the spread of the novel coronavirus and the subsequent fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic ground the U.S. economy to a halt. Pet shelters in the state of Hawaii, which rely heavily on tourism and foot traffic to place pets, were thrust into a COVID crisis virtually overnight as commercial flights were grounded and quarantine measures were put into place. 

Pet transport “rescue flights” to the mainland, typically a key part of Hawaiian shelters’ lifesaving strategy, all but ceased entirely. With fewer pets getting adopted, less space was available in many of the shelters to save the lives of at-risk pets in the community. Some shelters urgently needed to make room for hundreds of pets. 

We wanted to help, so Greater Good Charities partnered with Wings of Rescue and the John R. Peterson Foundation to launch Paws Across the Pacific in what would be the single largest pet airlift in history. On October 28, 2020, we flew nearly 600 dogs and cats from 6 shelters on 5 Hawaiian islands to Seattle, WA, where they would quickly find homes in the Pacific Northwest. 

I cannot overstate the importance of every single participant in this operation to make it a success; the inspiring way that so many people, perfect strangers to each other, came together united around a common mission to help the shelters and pets of Hawaii. 

Wings of Rescue and The John R. Peterson Foundation shared the vision and helped operationalize it in a way we wouldn’t have been able to on our own. And when John R. Peterson Foundation offered a very generous matching donation, YOU generously gave, achieving our matching goal in record time. 

The Animal Rescue Site helped raise much needed funding to support the record-breaking transport, and provided comfort and enrichment supplies to our shelter partners in Hawaii. 

Our pet passengers required expert vetting on both sides of the flight, and Banfield Foundation generously sponsored all of their medical care. And to ensure the dogs and cats stayed healthy after arrival, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health provided much needed preventative care for the receiving shelters. Jackson Galaxy (Greater Good Charities board member and founder of The Jackson Galaxy Project) consulted on the comfort of the hundreds of cats who were flying. 

In addition to financial support, our friends at Royal Canin provided premium pet nutrition in Seattle so our hungry travelers could be fed as soon as they arrived. 

Additional contributions from VCA Charities, PEDIGREE Foundation, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Petco Foundation, MuttNation Foundation, and Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation helped make this dream a reality. 

Our partners at Air Charter Service and Lynden Air Cargo made certain our precious cargo was flown safely across the Pacific, while Kamaka Air Cargo selflessly donated its services to bring a load of cats from Lanai to our first stop on Kauai so they could join the flight to freedom. 

From my perspective, the true heroes of this operation are the shelter staff and volunteers working daily to save the lives of countless pets. Your cooperation and partnership made Paws Across the Pacific possible. Hawaiian shelter partners include Kauai Humane Society, Hawaiian Humane Society, Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Hawaii Island Humane Society, Maui Humane Society, and Aloha `Ilio Rescue. Mainland shelter partners include PAWS, The NOAH Center, Seattle Humane, Humane Society of Skagit Valley, Kitsap Humane, Oregon Humane Society, Humane Society for Southwest Washington, Kootenai Humane Society, Seattle Area Feline Rescue, TRACS, SpokAnimal, Blue Mountain Humane Society, and Embrace a Discarded Animal Society.

Finally, we would not have been able to safely plan such a large effort without the steadfast partnership and guidance of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. 
With all of you, Paws Across the Pacific is just one more way we Amplify The Good together.


Noah Horton

Written By
Noah Horton

Chief Marketing Officer
Greater Good Charities