During July, an organization called ‘Wings of Rescue’ picked up several dogs from the Oakdale Animal Shelter and transported them to Washington. They were flown in a plane with a logo stating “love is in the air” on it to find permanent homes for these furry four legged pets.
Several years ago the shelter – which services both Riverbank and Oakdale – worked with this organization but had not been in contact very much in the past few years. Animal Shelter Manager Danielle Merritt contacted the organization after seeing how active they were in saving dogs’ lives all over the country on Facebook and recently reestablished their relationship. Since this occurred, the organization has made two trips to pick up dogs from the Oakdale Animal Shelter.
Previously the shelter was working with a bus that would travel to Canada and Oregon to find pets forever homes; however they are not in the area too often anymore, according to Merritt.
The Wings of Rescue organization flies all over the country and when they stop in Northern California they fly into the Livermore Municipal Airport. Volunteers like Mary Carpenter and Sue Lamont, members of the Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance (OSPA), loaded the dogs that are each in a crate into their vehicles and drove them to the Livermore airport where they were loaded into the plane and then flown to a safe haven.
“They have been very instrumental in saving lives at the Oakdale shelter,” stated Debi Scoles, OSPA Vice President. “I believe the dogs go to rescues in Washington which then find permanent homes.”
Wings called Merritt and asked if she had any small dogs and informed her that they would have an upcoming flight.
“So I sent her pictures and they do have to be friendly with other animals and people,” said Merritt. “We spend a lot of time with our dogs since we are so small and we have a lot of volunteers. So we know each of their personalities.”
If a stray or an owner surrenders a dog that is scared the staff at the shelter will specifically work with that dog one on one to make sure it adjusts and settles in nicely.
When that situation does occur, Merritt explained that it usually takes the dogs a couple of days to familiarize themselves with the shelter routine and get comfortable that they will not be hurt.
“We want them to know that this is not a bad place, it is a happy place,” added Merritt. “They get walked every day by volunteers. They get fresh food and fresh water every day. They get a clean kennel every day. They get a clean blanket every day. This place gets cleaned every day really good.”
Before the dogs can go on the flight with the Wings of Rescue they have to have a health certificate along with a heartworm test, which has to be negative for the trip to proceed.
For the particular situation last Tuesday, July 26, a volunteer took six dogs to Dr. Mel Tanner with Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale, who examined each one.
After the health examinations, Merritt prepares a package for each dog that includes their health certificates, vaccine information, spay/neuter certificates, and heartworm test.
“They get brought back here and we load them up into a volunteer’s vehicle and they each get their own crate,” explained Merritt. “She takes them and loads them into the plane. They get dispersed to other rescues in Washington.”
Stated on the wingsofrescue.org website it states that the Wings of Rescue is run by pilots that have experience in organizing and coordinating each mission. They understand the factors and details that go into planning a safe, successful flight and use a network of ground volunteers to make loading and delivery as easy as possible for the pilot. Wings of Rescue has already saved over 19,000 dogs and cats and is on track to rescue 7,000 more by the end of 2016. Wings Of Rescue is a 501c3 charity.
Merritt believes that rescues like pulling from the Oakdale shelter because they spay/neuter their pets and they really know their dogs from spending quality time with them as well as being organized and their volunteer transports are always on time.
“I believe our biggest positive note is that we are very small because we only cover the city limits of Oakdale and Riverbank,” expressed Merritt. “We have a great volunteer group. We have a great staff of four.
“We spend a lot of one on one time with our dogs so that when people do come see our dogs we can tell them about the dog.”