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This guest post is from Lindsay Pollard-Post, a Research Specialist with the PETA foundation. 

Birds, turtles, and fish aren’t the only animal victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Countless cats’ and dogs’ lives were also turned upside down when Gulf-area residents lost their jobs or left the area and surrendered their animal companions to shelters. But thanks to Southwest Airlines, who generously flew volunteers to Louisiana free of charge, PETA was able to give nearly 50 dogs and 30 cats from severely crowded Gulf-area shelters a second chance at life.

In the first round of rescues, PETA volunteers, along with PETA honorary director Pamela Anderson, walked and gave treats to the dogs before loading them into a comfortable, air-conditioned RV for the drive to PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. Pamela—who paid for all of the dogs' local adoption, spay or neuter surgery, and flea treatment costs—fell in love with two of the dogs and adopted them on the spot! The rest of the dogs arrived safely in Norfolk, where eager families were ready to give them permanent, loving homes or to foster them while they recuperated.

Less than a week later, PETA volunteers were back aboard Southwest Airline heading to Louisiana to rescue nearly 30 "special needs" cats who were suffering from illnesses, injuries, or chronic stress from spending many years in a shelter, waiting for a home. Pamela funded veterinary care for the cats—one of whom had a misshapen face and another who was missing part of a leg. Two desperate dogs—Sandy, a Labrador retriever mix with a flea allergy, and Cassie, a pug mix—also hitched a ride with the cats to Norfolk and were transferred to the Washington Animal Rescue League's shelter in Washington, D.C. for adoption.

Some of these cats are already settling into their new homes, but others still need a special person to give them a second chance. Virginia residents with exemplary veterinary references and quiet households who are interested in adopting one (or two!) of these hard-luck cats are encouraged to visit [] to fill out an application.

We can all take action to end the cat and dog homelessness crisis by having our animals spayed or neutered, encouraging and helping others to do the same, and always adopting our animal companions from shelters. Together, we can make a difference!

Explorer C
Could we confirm that the pets were actually adopted and not destroyed like so many of the animals that arrive at PETA's headquarters?
Adventurer A
Hi Phelps, We got reports from PETA with details of the animal adoptions, and everything we know about PETA is that they are a champion for animal rights. - Laurel
Explorer C
Kudos to PETA for doing a great thing with so many animals who would otherwise be suffering in cages!
Explorer C
KUDOS Southwest for giving free flights to these heroes for our small friends. Just another example of the amazing work that PETA does day in and day out, with the help of so many local heroes around the country. PETA rocks!
Explorer C
Thank goodness for the compassionate people at PETA and generous businesses like Southwest who lend a hand (and more) to those in need. So happy for these loving animals to have another chance at a happy life. Thanks for your kindness PETA and Southwest.
Explorer C
This is so great. Thank you Southwest and PETA! I am so happy to know that these abandoned animals have new homes and a second chance at life. Wonderful.
Explorer C
Thank you Southwest! It's so nice to hear that Southwest is teaming up with PETA to help animals in need. What a great partnership! Way to go!
Explorer C
The animals that the caring staff at PETA give a humane, peaceful passing to are ones who have been through physical and emotionally tormented lives -- those chained outside with only a few feet to walk their entire lives, starved and exposed to the harsh elements year-round, those who have been abused to the point of deep depression, numbness, and severe aggression, those who deserve a peaceful loving passing in the arms of people who truly care for each individual animal. As long as the shelters are over-full due to people's support of breeders and pet stores, there will be no room for all of these tormented animals in the shelters nor a chance for them to find more-than-good homes. Please remember to ALWAYS ADOPT, NEVER BUY and NEVER BREED an animal.
Explorer C
thank you PETA, these animals are lucky to have you!
Explorer C
PETA and Southwest Airlines are amazing! I am so proud to know that an airline I fly so often and I've supported through tickets is working with a wonderful animal welfare organization. PETA obviously donates its time, money, resources, and beyond to innocent creatures that others disregard selfishly. PETA should be applauded for stepping up, speaking up, and doing something about it...instead of so many people who give lip service but never follow through. Again, kudos to Southwest and PETA! I know where my donations will go this year.
Explorer C
Good work, Southwest and PETA. There are so many animals in shelters waiting for good homes. This effort not only found homes for so many cats and dogs, but also drew attention to the importance of adopting an animal from a shelter. I applaud PETA for their work.
Explorer C
That is so fantastic. I am so glad that so many displaced animals were given a new beginning with a new home. It's not everyday that animals are giving a second chance because of such severe overcrowding in shelters. PETA will always have my support.
Explorer C
This is awesome! Way to go Southwest and PETA!
Explorer C
Way to go, Southwest and PETA! Great news. Whether there is a disaster or not, I hope everyone who has room in their hearts and homes for a dog or cat will adopt one from a shelter or rescue group.
Explorer C
Wow, PETA does a nice thing for animals and you make that comment? I feel sorry for you, open your mind up, do some research before assuming PETA is horrible. Last time I checked, helping animals is a good thing.
Explorer C
Thank You, PETA and Southwest, for caring and providing each of these dogs and cats the possibility of a new home and a better life.
Explorer C
Hats off to PETA and Southwest for rescuing these precious, forgotten animals. Animal shelters in nearly every community are overflowing with cats and dogs who desperately need good homes. We can be lifesavers by always adopting animals from shelters or rescue groups and having our animals spayed or neutered.
Explorer C
Phelps. My friends and I talk about that all the time. I've realized a lot of lies are spread through the mainstream media. After doing some research I found that an organization funded by the food, alcohol, and firearms industries, have been discrediting organizations like PETA, HSUS, MADD and others for years. It pays to do the research. Do your own. Corporations would rather you follow in time with status quo, but I've been fooled too many times that I'm not buying it anymore. PETA's doing a great job with animals best interest in mind, always!
Explorer C
Additionally, Phelps, Do your homework and check out why animals are euthanized at PETA's headquarters. These are animals that have been hit by cars, have broken limbs, are elderly and unwanted, or suffering from an injury that their owners never fixed. Do you have funds and accepatable homes for thousands of injured animals that have been abandoned, beaten, and left to suffer? Didnt thinks so. PETA is a godsend to people who cant afford to put their suffering animals down and you and many others want to take away from that just to sound self-righteous. I dont blame you for being ignorant about the issue. Most people that have spent about 5 min googling PETA have made up their minds also and share your ignorance.
Explorer C
What wonderful teamwork! This is a heartwarming story that gives me a new respect for Southwest Airlines. When large companies come to the aid of the smallest and neediest victims of disasters, it sends a strong message to everyone. We can ALL pitch in to make the world a nicer place! Thank you Southwest and PETA for helping animals affected by the oil geyser in the Gulf.
Explorer A
Thank you! I love animals, especially dogs, & it makes me so sad when they suffer. Thanks again! SWA LUV!
Explorer C
in these problem regarding with our dog and cats if they abandoned. We can send them to the sectors who take care of them