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More than 600 dogs and cats were transported from Hawaii to Seattle on Oct. 29 in what’s being called the largest pet rescue flight in history.

Hawaiian officials decided to airlift the animals on a chartered flight in an effort to reduce the number of dogs and cats in shelters on the island state.

The animals were moved from overcrowded shelters across five Hawaiian islands to less crowded shelters in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, where they will be available for adoption.

“Pet shelters in Hawaii are in a COVID-19 crisis,” Liz Baker, CEO of Greater Good Charities, told Honolulu-based KHON. “Normal operations have been affected by months of shut down, economic downturn, limited hours and routine flights to mainland halted.”

Denise Bash, Greater Good Charities disaster response director, said the move is “100% a disaster response.”

Hawaiian Humane Society communications director Daniel Roselle told Hawaii News Now that all the animals that were transported were evaluated first.

“We looked at age. We just looked at general overall health. We looked at temperament. There are some obvious restrictions, including breed restrictions, in some places,” he said.

The program, dubbed Paws Across the Pacific, was supported by 24 organizations, including Greater Good Charities, the Banfield Foundation, VCA Charities, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the Petco Foundation and Royal Canin.

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