MACON, Ga. - Packed in a dog crate, a 3-year-old boxer mix named Sky took flight earlier this month.
She was one of a half-dozen dogs who got the ride of their lives flying from Macon, Georgia, to new homes in Virginia.
Kim Williams, who volunteers for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation of Arlington, Virginia, said he has tapped into a puppy pipeline to bring some of Georgia’s homeless pet population to the mid-Atlantic region, where demand is outrunning the number of dogs available for adoption.
“We have had the most incredible outpouring of people in the D.C. suburbs that have a strong desire to rescue dogs and cats during this pandemic,” Williams wrote in an email.
Williams, who has family in Macon, met Kristin Reid during one of her visits with relatives.
Reid has a 30-acre horse farm in Forsyth and has rescued some unadoptable dogs from local shelters and tries to foster others to keep them from being euthanized.
Unable to hold fundraisers this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Reid found it difficult to take on more dogs. When she learned the Virginia foundation needed dogs to adopt out, the groups linked up with the Pilots N Paws volunteer pilot group.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the foundation has placed nearly 2,500 dogs in new homes.
While looking for adoptable dogs, the foundation discovered many rural shelters are struggling in the pandemic as facilities closed and more families turned in their animals due to financial strain.
But professionals working from home near Washington, D.C. are more amenable to taking on a new pet and are returning them at a lower rate than in previous years.
“The northern Virginia-D.C. area is actually having a hard time keeping up with the demand for rescue dogs,” Williams said.
Of 360 dogs rescued from Georgia this year by the group, about 200 traveled by transport vans from Albany in southwest Georgia.
Earlier this month, the group made their first flight to Macon to pick up Reid’s six dogs and deliver pet food and supplies.
The shorter travel time by air can relieve some travel stress for dogs like Sky, who has anxiety.
The foundation’s executive director, Dawn Wallace, served in the Air Force and spent nearly 12 years at Robins Air Force Base south of Macon. She hopes to continue rescuing animals from the South.
“I know of so many selfless and dedicated people in this area of Georgia who are helping to save and rescue animal lives,” Williams wrote in an email. “Yet there is still such a prevalent need for continued relief to help reduce the number of homeless pets and save the lives of highly adoptable dogs.”
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.