Chihuahua Rescue: Flying in Style to a New Home in NYC

virgin air chihuahua rescue



I first read about a very special chihuahua rescue operation through Richard Branson's column in Canadian Business Magazine. While discussing the way social media are changing the way his companies interact with customers, Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, wrote a heart warming story.

Virgin America launched "Operation Chihuahua" in January 2010 to fly abandoned chihuahuas from an over- populated California shelter to increase their chances of finding a loving home in New York City.

chihuahua sitting on Virgin Air flight

When the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) contacted Virgin in late 2009 to ask for their help transporting the chihuahuas from the West Coast to the East Coast, Virgin's team decided to go all out, Virgin style. They sent 15 chis off in high-style with a red carpet departure from a San Francisco International Airport gate, complete with champagne cocktail "Chi-mosas" and cupcakes for flight guests and doggie treats and toys for the Chihuahuas. The little guys were escorted by an SF ACC staff veterinarian and Virgin America teammates during the flight to New York.

This wonderful story was shared with the public on Virgin's Facebook page, on which fans could follow the little chis live via on-board cameras during their flight.

Chihuahua Rescue Flight Passenger

Chihuahua Rescue Critical in California

In 2009, California shelters have seen a dramatic increase in incoming Chihuahuas, with the tiny pups making up more than 30 percent of the shelter dog population. Although Iconic actresses such as Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus have contributed to the exploding popularity of the little breed, the Chihuahua Frenzy may have hit the hardest in California. The success of the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua, along with California's hot-close-to-Mexico climate, made this state the perfect place to been seen with a chihuahua in your purse. California House Foreclosure

In 2009, California shelters have seen a dramatic increase in incoming Chihuahuas, with the tiny pups making up more than 30 percent of the shelter dog population. Although Iconic actresses such as Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus have contributed to the exploding popularity of the little breed, the Chihuahua Frenzy may have hit the hardest in California. The success of the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua, along with California's hot-close-to-Mexico climate, made this state the perfect place to been seen with a chihuahua in your purse.

Unfortunately, California was the most severely hit during the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008, and more than 4 million people lost their jobs. With an unemployment rate rising to 12% and increasingly unaffordable mortgage payments, hundreds of thousands of families went through foreclosure and were forced out of their house. As some were lucky enough to be allowed to camp out in their relatives' living room, many more camped in local shelters and school gymnasiums for months.

All breeds of dogs were abandoned by the dozen, and the chihuahua fashion quickly went out of style.

While demand for chihuahuas has declined in much of the sunny state, their popularity in New York City is as high as ever. Chihuahua rescue organizations soon realized that the best chance to get a chi a new home is not anywhere near California. And now chis can play Jet Set again by flying to the East Coast to find love again.

The Jet Set Chihuahua Rescue

"Grey's Anatomy" actress Katherine Heigl's foundation has also been paying to fly California pups to the East Coast through a program called Project Flying Chihuahua. In December 2009, Katherine Heigl flew 25 chihuahuas to New Hampshire, where all of them found a loving home within 3 hours of their arrival.

How Can We Help? Simply click (coming soon) on Top 5 Ways to Support Chihuahua Rescues in Style

Back from Chihuahua Rescue to ChihuahuaFun.com HomePage