VAN NUYS ( — Hundreds of volunteers were set Friday to begin airlifting hundreds of pets from local animal shelters to new homes along the West Coast.

KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports the Wings of Rescue charity is partnering with the Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team (START) will ensure that at least 500 dogs will leave high kill shelters to live in new permanent homes.

Flying out of Van Nuys Airport, the Wings of Rescue’s 3rd Annual Holiday Airlift will utilize a fleet of 14 private planes flown by volunteer pilots to deliver over 400 unwanted dogs and cats to nearly a dozen destinations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

The Van Nuys-based charity is coordinating with 120 rescue and shelter organizations on the effort, which marks the largest one-day animal rescue on the West Coast, according to Wings of Rescue officials.

Volunteer pilot Ron Evanheim said the plan is to ensure these pets arrive at their new “furever homes” in time for Christmas.

“We love dogs, we have a dog at a home, it’s a good cause, and mixing it with the love and passion of flying, it’s a win-win situation,” Evanheim said.

Over the last three years, Wings of Rescue – which is the only all-volunteer group to fly this number of pets to safety – has rescued over 5,400 animals, according to the organization.

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