In what organizers are calling the largest pet rescue flight in history, more than 600 shelter dogs and cats from Hawaii were loaded onto a chartered Hercules C-130 and flown to Seattle on Wednesday.

The Paws Across the Pacific flight, staged by Greater Good Charities, Wings of Rescue and the John R. Peterson Foundation, picked up animals with stops on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. The animals, many of them already spoken for, were to be swiftly transferred to shelters in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia.

The Maui Humane Society provided 76 cats and nine dogs, as well as about 50 cats flown over from the Lanai Cat Sanctuary on Kamaka Air. The loading process at the shelter Wednesday was like a military operation timed to the minute. To minimize time spent in their bins, dogs and cats were loaded as close to departure as possible. Cat bins were pre-sprayed with a synthetic pheromone that makes felines calm and feel safe. Dog bins were already outfitted with trays of food and frozen water. Each bin was marked with the animal’s final destination. Bios and pictures had already been sent ahead of time.

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