(Update: Adding video, details, shelter official comments)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --It was a busy scene at the Bend Airport Tuesday afternoon as dozens of dogs and cats were unloaded from a plane after a rescue flight from hurricane-stricken Louisiana.
The flight of nearly 50 animals was part of Greater Good Charities' “Flying to Forever Homes” initiative in partnership with Mars Petcare and PEDIGREE Foundation.
"They've gone through a lot down in the South, and this really helps the shelters down there," said Lynne Ouchida, community outreach manager for the Humane Society of Central Oregon.
GreaterGood Charities works with animal shelter partners who were directly affected by the tragic storm. As families lost their homes or were evacuated, these shelter partners reported an influx of surrendered pets. Transporting out pets who were in shelters prior to the storm helps ensure they are adopted, but also that opens up more room in operating shelters to accept the influx of new pets.
Ouchida said Greater Good Charities reached out to her in hopes the Humane Society would be able to take in dogs from about six different shelters throughout Louisiana who were impacted by the recent hurricane.
A total of 27 dogs and 22 cats are now in need of new homes.
"The animals that we're receiving are animals that have been sitting in the shelters or have been owner-released. These are not animals that were just lost in the storm, and there may be an owner looking for them," Ouchida said.
The cats and dogs range from a few weeks to a few years old.
Greater Good Charities' Good Flights program has already transported more than 500 at-risk shelter pets prior to Hurricane Ida making landfall, and in the aftermath of the storm.
It's far from the first such disaster-related rescue mission HSCO has been involved with. Ouchida noted that nine dogs were taken to the Bend shelter after Hurricane Harvey, and a staff member traveled to New Orleans to rescue animals after Hurricane Katrina.
There have also been big intakes in neglect cases over the years, 53 dogs from one case in La Pine, another of 36 dogs in a Bend case.
But this is the largest long-distance animal transfer -- with 14 of the 49 arrivals being cared for in volunteer foster homes by Tuesday night. Ouchida said the rest were all settling into their kennels, "all tucked away and sleeping for the night after their very long day."
Ouchida said the Louisiana animals will be available for adoption in just a few days on HSCO's website.
"Check them out. Visit with them. See if there’s a perfect family member for you," Ouchida said.