NEW ORLEANS — A plane full of rescue animals from Louisiana came crashing down on a snowy golf course in Wisconsin. The plane took off from the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. That was just part of the long journey for nearly 5-dozen dogs.
6 a.m. Tuesday, the first major snowfall began in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and at the same time in New Orleans, the monthly flight of homeless dogs, 56 dogs in all, took off for the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha.
"The adoption rates are just amazing. These pets barely make it into the shelter and get their medical checks and get their bills of clean health and they are off into loving homes," Jennifer Smieja, Communications Specialist for Humane Animal Welfare Society said.
The dogs started off at the shelter in St. Martin Parish. They boarded a GreaterGood Organization flight in New Orleans, bound for forever homes up north. Just three miles from the airport, the plane went down on a golf course.
"The pilot and his copilot did an amazing job of getting this aircraft on the ground the way that they did. And I think all of us collectively have a soft spot in our heart for dogs that have been rescued, and now to think that they have to go through this before they find their forever home," Lieutenant Nicholas Wenzel Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office said.
The pilot, copilot and another person on board sustained nonlife-threatening injuries and went to the hospital. Many of the dogs were thrust out of their crates on impact, but they all survived. Dozens of HAWS staff, volunteers, sheriff's deputies, golf course staff and maintenance began the round up in the freezing temperatures. At first it was chaos, then calm.
"They were doing remarkably well. I think maybe they sensed that we were here to help. They snuggled with some of the workers in jackets and coats, and that kind of thing for some of them, I think was the first time they had ever seen snow. I think some of them were having a good time in the snow," Smieja said.
There were only some scraped noses and torn paw nails but all of them have families waiting to kiss them and make it all better.
"Yes, there may be some scars some of these dogs. They may need a little bit more snuggles as they settle in, but it is an amazing thing that everyone was able to walk away from that flight," she said.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. The Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha said it was flooded with calls from people wanting to cover costs, bring extra blankets, towels, toys, and treats. Now, they await next month's flight. They say they get tremendous sense of pride and joy helping with the pet overpopulation in Louisiana.
For more information or to donate to GreaterGood click here.