Christmas Comes Early For Dogs Condemned To Die

A hundred dogs will be wagging their tails this Christmas as their lives are reprieved as a result of a special airlift.

This Thursday, December 15th from 7:30AM to 9:00AM, Van Nuys Airport will be the staging area for the departure of approximately one hundred dogs of all shapes and sizes that have gotten a holiday reprieve from a certain death sentence, and be transported via private aircrafts to safety and loving new families just in time for the holidays.

The dogs will arrive on the tarmac at 7:30 AM in a specially designed bus before being loaded into a Jet Prop and a Pilatus PC 12 aircrafts bearing the Wings of Rescue logo and the tag line, "Flying Home."

The people behind the "Wings of Rescue Holiday Airlift" are a coalition of Los Angeles area individuals and groups including Wings of Rescue, S.T.A.R.T. (Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team) and the IL Care branch of the Israeli Leadership Council.  These diverse groups have joined together to create a network dedicated to rescuing dogs destined for euthanasia in California's high kill shelters and flying them to new homes in states where demand for adoption exceeds the supply of available pets.

Wings of Rescue, founded by local resident and private pilot Yehuda Netanel, is an all volunteer organization of pilots who have combined a passion for flying with a desire to save shelter animals from euthanasia.  Netanel, himself an owner of six dogs, says that one day he came to the realization that "Every day, amazing dogs awake to their last," and decided to use his personal resources to do something about it. As word spread, the flights grew more frequent and the rescue dogs more plentiful; expanding to the now record one hundred or more dogs being transported on the December 15th, 2011 "Wings of Rescue Holiday Airlift."

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S.T.A.R.T. (Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team) operates the specially retrofitted bus that provides the ground transport component of our rescue effort.  Steve Spiro, commenting on the group's purpose says, "START is dedicated to saving animals on death row and giving them a new beginning by sending them to out of state rescue groups where they are wanted and will be loved."   With literally thousands of dogs in the Los Angeles shelter system being euthanized weekly due to a lack of capacity and adoptive homes, Spiro adds, "Our purpose for the transports is the possibility and hope that one day … we will be out of business."

The IL Care branch of the Israeli Leadership Council has become involved by lending support and volunteers. The mission of IL Care is to create a united and engaged Israeli-American and Jewish-American volunteer community through a membership-based social volunteer network for all ages.

Lending support and on hand help during the loading process will be Mr. Chris DeRose.  For over three decades DeRose has been an international leader in the animal rights movement, as well as an inspiration and consultant to countless other individuals and groups dedicated to the animal cause.  In 1984, he founded Last Chance for Animals (LCA), a national, nonprofit animal advocacy organization focused on investigating, exposing, and ending animal exploitation.

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Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine is the the online editor at She is an experienced dog owner and professional writer who lives with her two beloved dogs, Mabel and Charlie.

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