Virgin America launches ‘Operation Chihuahua Airlift’


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Virgin America, San Francisco’s hometown airline, is assisting the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) by flying Chihuahua pups from San Francisco to the New York area so they can be adopted quickly into loving homes in time for Thanksgiving. The overpopulation of Chihuahuas in California continues to force animal shelters on the West Coast to look to shelters on the East Coast for help – where there is demand for the dogs among apartment-dwelling New Yorkers. As the only San Francisco-based airline, Virgin America first teamed up with the SFACC to fly needy pups to new homes on the East Coast in 2010 to help address the influx of dogs at shelters on the West Coast. The overpopulation issue has only escalated since then, and as part of its long-standing partnership with and commitment to SF ACC, Virgin America is today undertaking its fifth airlift.

The airline today launches a special “Flights to Bark About” offer: for flight bookings made today via* the airline will pledge $5*** to support San Francisco Animal Care and Control and its ongoing Chihuahua rescue and airlift efforts.

“We’re so pleased to again help our friends at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control who do such important work to care for animals in need in our community,” said John MacLeod, SVP of Planning and Sales at Virgin America. “We’re also excited to give flyers a reason to join us in supporting this worthy cause with a great deal, and of course, to roll out the red carpet for the canine guests we have traveling with us today. They will of course be upgraded en route to Newark to our Main Chihuahua Select class.”

Virgin America’s “Official Pet Liaison,” Boo, will host a special red carpet send-off at the departure gate for his fellow four-legged friends before they begin their journey. The Chihuahuas will be received at EWR by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) – who will place the little dogs in loving adoptive homes. Virgin America teammates will escort the dogs on flights to the East Coast today and will track their journey with real-time in-flight updates via the airline’s fleetwide WiFi service on Instagram and Twitter. In addition, Virgin America is asking flyers to post photos of their favorite furry travel companions on Twitter or Instagram with the #VXbark hashtag. The cutest travel critter will win a doggie swag bag containing Boo’s latest book, “Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog” and Virgin America Swag Shop pet travel favorites.

“We’re thrilled to once again partner with our hometown airline – and so excited that a canine celebrity like Boo is coming out to show support,” said Rebecca Katz, Director of the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control. “We have a major overpopulation of Chihuahuas here in California. Virgin America’s continued support in flying these little guys out to the East Coast over the last few years has helped us place them into loving homes that they couldn’t have found here. We encourage Bay Area residents to drop–in and check out their local shelters if they’re thinking about adopting.”

“The ASPCA is dedicated to ending animal homelessness nationwide, and we are thrilled to do our part today helping to find loving homes for this group of animals from San Francisco while meeting the high demand for these dogs in New York,” said Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center. “These Chihuahuas will need time to settle in and receive medical and behavioral evaluations once they arrive so we encourage interested adopters to visit our website to learn about all the available animals at our shelter who need homes for the holidays.”