HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY-Last Saturday 60 puppies who were in foster care in Happy Valley-Goose Bay were carefully crated and loaded onto a FedEx plane and flown to Halifax, where they were united with foster parents and adoptees. The flight left Happy-Valley-Goose Bay around 9:40 a.m., where they were greeted by close to 100 supporters and members of Litters N’ Critters, who agreed to take in the animals.
The animals began arriving at the hanger of Air Labrador around 6 a.m. on a chilly Saturday morning. Air Labrador donated its hangar and staff to help with the loading of the animals, while FedEx offered up one its airplanes to fly the puppies to Halifax.
Earlier it was reported that the animals were from the evacuation from last week’s forest fire in the North West River/Sheshatshiu Innu First Nations area, but that was not the case. The animals were all from foster homes in Goose Bay and the flight usually happens once or twice a year.
SPCA spokesperson Bonnie Learning said the shelter usually ships the puppies to Halifax using Provincial Airlines but can’t because the cargo hold is too hot in the summer.
In a press released issued by the HVGB SPCA on July 2, it was announced the FedEx Canada would be re-routing one of their cargo planes to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to assist in transporting some 50-60 of the HV-GB SPCA's dogs and puppies that are currently in their care.
Throughout the morning, more and more of the puppies and some older dogs gathered and played, had a drink and a bite to eat on the lawn adjacent to Air Labrador. Many puppies were shivering in the pre-dawn sun and were rounded up and put in blankets and inside volunteers’ jackets to keep warm.
At 7:00 a.m. the plane touched down on the tarmac near the hangar of Air Labrador. As the pilots exited the plane they were greeted with a thunderous round of applause by the members of the SPCA and volunteers, who had all come out in support of this special day.
“Raise the Woof, Mushkadoodle Express” banner was unfurled to greet the crew.
As the plane was emptied, it became apparent of the task at hand as the runway, hangar soon filled up with pet carriers of every size and dimension. As volunteers and Air Labrador staff began to prepare the cages, the emotions began to flow as many of the foster parents wept as their fostered pets began to be loaded into carriers for the two-hour flight to Halifax. Many wept as the animals were taken from the hangar to a staging area near the plane.
The first of 60 puppies were loaded onto the plane and in the background howls from other puppies filled the air, many not knowing what or where they were going.
For FedEx pilot Al Paterson from Toronto, who like his co-pilot Daniel Guimont from Montreal, volunteered his time to fly the animals to Halifax, was amazed and humbled to have helped with such a great cause.
“Amazing what they have done here. It was an emotional time for me too, I have two dogs of my own back home, it is truly amazing and very humbling to be part of this,” Paterson said.
Once in Halifax, the precious cargo was greeted by Shelley Cunningham, president of Litters n' Critters, a Halifax animal rescue operation, who will ensure they go to good homes.