September 13, 2023
By: Bailey Allen
Published: August 2, 2022
A plane full of 150 cats flew into New Bedford Regional Airport from Florida on Tuesday, the first flight of a program spearheaded by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to move cats from overwhelmed shelters in Florida to better-equipped shelters in Massachusetts, according to the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center.
Mike Keiley, MSPCA-Angell director of adoption centers and programs, said the shelter, along with Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, are establishing a “Southern Hub” in Florida to help ease shelter overcrowding there. Tuesday’s flight was the first of several transports planned for 2022, he said.
The program transported 150 cats and kittens from several shelters in Florida — Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach, Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County in Vero Beach, and Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City, according to a press release.
“We connected with some of the better-resourced shelters in Florida, taking in a large number of their cats, which gives them the space in their shelters to pull in cats from those under-resourced shelters around them and give [the cats] the medical treatment and behavioral support that they need to become adoptable and successful,” Keiley said in an interview Monday.
Florida has been dealing with a cat overpopulation issue due to the climate, which is conducive to breeding all year-round, as opposed to Massachusetts, which has limited windows for breeding due to the harsh winters and extreme seasons, Keiley said.
Since it would be too stressful on the cats to be transported by ground, Greater Good Charities stepped in to help provide a plane to fly them to Massachusetts, Keiley said.
A lot of logistics needed to be ironed out before the flight, including figuring out the coolest time of day to fly, sourcing the right number of carriers, and creating a color-coding system to sort each cat into different isolation locations once in Massachusetts, Keiley said.
After the airplane landed in New Bedford Tuesday, the cats went to different MSPCA care and adoption centers in Boston, Methuen, Centerville, and Salem to complete a 48-hour isolation, Keiley said.
Following the isolation period, veterinarians will do health checks, which are necessary to making sure the cats are healthy enough for adoption. Any of the animals that are not spayed or neutered will have those procedures done, he added.
The cats will start to go up for adoption as early as Friday if they’re already spayed or neutered, and then Saturday or Sunday if they are not yet, Keiley said.
Keiley is also the chair of Shelter Animals Count, a national organization that collects and shares data for intake and outcomes of animals entering shelters, and he has noticed that shelter income of animals is starting to outpace adoptions for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, he said.
“The absolute most important thing right now is a call to action for adopters,” Keiley said. “We need adopters more than ever for all animals because shelters are experiencing a brand new set of challenges to deal with.”
September 13, 2023
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