A dozen homeless pups from Los Angeles landed Friday in Pasco in hopes of finding new homes in the Mid-Columbia.
Twelve of the "pocket pets," mostly Chihuahua mixes, came from an animal shelter near Los Angeles with an overcrowding problem, said Elaine Allison, director of the Benton Franklin Humane Society in Kennewick.
Allison, who is originally from L.A., decided to lend a helping hand when someone with the Wings of Rescue operation contacted her about the dogs' plight.
"It's like the 12 dogs of Christmas," she said Friday evening as she and medical coordinator Tony Glover checked the health of the dogs after their long flight and put them in temporary glass kennels. Each was dressed in a Santa-themed canine coat to keep them warm during the flight.
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The new arrivals will be quarantined for a week while local veterinarian Dr. Kelly Regan checks for any health issues.
Wings of Rescue, a California-based organization, is made up of pilots who volunteer their private planes and services to fly thousands of animals each year to save them from overcrowded shelters where they will be killed.
Friday's airlift involved 500 dogs, using 14 private planes and pilots, to 13 cities in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho.
This is the third year the nonprofit has flown dogs from L.A. shelters, to live happier lives in other parts of the country, according to the agency's website.
"L.A. has a growing problem with people giving up their small dogs, causing overcrowding situations at shelters there," Allison said.
She figures part of the overcrowding problem could be because of a Hollywood trend where it's considered cool to have a adorable little dog tucked under your arm or in your purse while shopping on Rodeo Drive.
However, soon some owners discover there's more to having a pet than its cuteness.
Reality bites when people discover that the little pooch requires a lot more work than they bargained for, she added.
"Our facility here usually has no problem finding homes for small dogs, so I was happy to help out," Allison said. "We have a harder time finding homes for the larger dogs."
Though most of the dogs are believed to be neutered or spayed, those that aren't will be taken care of before being put up for adoption, Allison said.
For more information about Humane Society adoptions, go to www.bfhs.com or call 374-4235.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal