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Dozens of shelter dogs flown to new homes

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) - Saving the lives of innocent animals, that's what one Oklahoma woman sets out to do each month, as she puts dozens of dogs on a plane in search of a better future.

Vikki Smith is the director of Fetch Fido a Flight, a group that works with animal shelters across Oklahoma, many of which have high kill rates for the stray animals that find their way their doors. Back in 2016, Smith decided she'd had enough and that a change needed to be made to save the lives of animals here in Oklahoma.

On a Saturday morning, at a private air strip near Oklahoma City, dogs of all breeds and ages were walked, loaded into crates and put on a plane for new lives in the Pacific Northwest.

This volunteer-based mission is a labor of love for the group Fetch Fido a Flight which transports homeless pets from Oklahoma to other states.

Hundreds of dogs from shelters across Oklahoma have been saved over the last year, including 150 from the Altus Animal Shelter alone.

"This has saved so many lives and opened our shelter in the months we've done it so that other dogs can come in,” said Altus Animal Shelter volunteer Alyda Richardson. “Because usually, when these dogs come out, we'll have 10 more come in in a day."

Vikki Smith moved to Oklahoma in 2015. She quickly realized how many homeless dogs there are on the streets.

“Our shelters are full, our rescues are full, our fosters are full and they are euthanizing at an incredible rate,” Smith said.

Smith said she couldn't believe what she was seeing at some of those full shelters.

"We have owner surrenders, we have strays, we have puppies that were dumped that people find. It's just an incredible problem here,” Smith said.

She began looking into Oklahoma's euthanasia laws.

"In Oklahoma, it includes heart stick and gunshot and gas chambers,” Smith said.

That was all she needed to do something about it. She started the organization Fetch Fido a Flight, which partners with shelters across the state. Now, nearly every month, volunteers from those shelters set out to save as many pets as possible.

"We are bringing all of these animals in that would have been euthanized, putting them on a leased cargo plane and sending them to the pacific northwest where I've partnered with a no-kill shelter there and 90-percent of these animals on this flight today will be adopted and in their forever home in about 3 days,” Smith said.

On the morning of March 25, 63 dogs were flown non-stop to Portland, Oregon. Volunteers there picked up the Oklahoma dogs at the airport, farmed them out to no-kill shelters and started adopting them.

Smith began slowly chipping away at Oklahoma’s dog overpopulation problem, flying out 439 dogs in 2016, but Fetching Fido a flight is not cheap.

"The flights cost $15,000 per plane and I'm basically a one-woman show. I do all of my own fundraising and so it's critical for us to get donations for us to continue to do this program,” Smith said.

Smith said she's proud of what her group has become but she knows there are so many more dogs that can be saved in the future.

If you'd like to donate to Fetch Fido A Flight, you can find more information on their website and Facebook page.

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