A plane carrying 150 cats flew from Florida to New Bedford Regional Airport on Tuesday, the first flight of a program led by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to move cats from overcrowded shelters in Florida to better-equipped shelters in Florida. Massachusetts, according to the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center.
Mike Keiley, MSPCA-Angell’s director of adoption centers and programs, said the shelter, along with the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, is setting up a “Southern Hub” in Florida to reduce shelter overcrowding there. Tuesday’s flight was the first of several transports scheduled for 2022, he said.
The program transported 150 cats and kittens from several Florida shelters: 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 contacted some of the better equipped shelters in Florida, taking in a large number of their cats, giving them space in their shelters to pick up cats from the subordinate shelters around them and [the cats] the medical treatment and behavioral support they need to become adoptable and successful,” Keiley said in an interview Monday.
Florida has faced cat overpopulation due to its climate, which is conducive to year-round breeding, unlike Massachusetts, which has limited breeding opportunities due to harsh winters and extreme seasons, Keiley said.
Because it would be too taxing for 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 had to be arranged for the flight, including figuring out the coolest time of day to fly, finding the right number of carriers and creating a color-coding system to sort each cat into different isolation locations in Massachusetts, Keiley said. .
After the plane landed in New Bedford on Tuesday, the cats went to several MSPCA care and adoption centers in Boston, Methuen, Centerville and Salem to complete a 48-hour isolation, Keiley said.
After the isolation period, vets will perform health checks, which are necessary to ensure the cats are healthy enough for adoption. Any of the animals that have not been spayed or neutered will undergo those procedures, he added.
The cats will go up for adoption as early as Friday if they’re already spayed or neutered, and then Saturday or Sunday if they aren’t already, Keiley said.
Keiley is also the chairman of Shelter Animals Count, a national organization that collects and shares data on the uptake and outcomes of animals entering shelters, and he has noticed the income of shelter animals for the first time since the start of the pandemic. in 2020, he said.
“The most important thing right now is a call to action for adopters,” Keiley said. “We need adopters for all animals more than ever, as shelters experience a whole new set of challenges to deal with.”
Bailey Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @baileyallen.