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Pets escape Sandy, land in San Diego

Nov. 18, 2012 at 1:22 PM

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Dogs and cats displaced by superstorm Sandy flew from Newark, N.J., to San Diego on a flight whose pilot said was their "only chance" to avoid euthanasia.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., worked with Southwest Airlines, SeaWorld and BP Global to arrange the special cross-country flight, U-T San Diego reported.

The plane -- carrying 30 dogs and 30 cats from New York and New Jersey that had faced euthanasia because their shelters were without power -- took off Saturday from Newark Liberty International Airport.

"It sounded like you were in a dog kennel. They were unsure, and they started yelping when we took off, but once we started leveling off, they calmed down," said Southwest Airlines chief pilot Bert Seither.

Flight attendants, pilots and other Southwest personnel donated their time to the cause, while SeaWorld provided expert animal handlers to ride with the pets and BP paid for the gas bill.

"These animals were going to be put down if they weren't moved," Seither said. "This is the only chance these animals had."

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