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Rescue flight helps 20 senior shelter dogs find new homes to enjoy their 'golden years'

Pet Rescue Pilots celebrated bringing their 2,500th pet to their forever homes by embarking on a flight full of senior dogs.
A split of two dogs.
Shelter dogs Mikey and Maggie found their forever homes in Oregon.Passenger Manifest / Passenger Manifest
/ Source: TODAY

Pet Rescue Pilots, a nonprofit that brings pets at overcrowded shelters to their forever homes through cost-free plane trips, celebrated bringing 2,500 pets to their forever homes by embarking on a special flight for senior pets only.

In honor of November being Adopt a Senior Pet Month, the rescue flew 23 senior dogs 856 miles from Los Angeles to Eugene, Oregon, on Nov. 5, where their foster parents and forever homes were waiting.

The seniors only flight brought the canines, all ages 7 and older, from overcrowded shelters in the Los Angeles area to Oregon, where four local rescue organizations greeted them to bring them to their new families.

Most of the passengers on the rescue's 125th flight, including 8-year-old Steven and 10-year-old Jordan, were picked up as strays at rural California shelters.

Shelter dog, Izzy.
Izzy was surrendered to a shelter after one of his parents died and another went into assisted living.Passenger Manifest

Many other older dogs end up at shelters after their owner suffers a major health event or dies, like 7-year-old miniature dachshund Izzy.

Other passengers on the flight included Mikey, a 10-year-old pup who has no teeth, leaving his tongue sticking out, and Ruffles, a 7-year-old, who is described as being timid at first, but once he gets past his shyness, he loves to play and bark in the morning as a way to start the day.

Shelter Dog, Ruffles.
Ruffles, one of the senior dogs on the flight's passenger list.Passenger Manifest

Elizabeth Thompson of the Oregon Coast Humane Society said there are many reasons to bring home a senior dog.

"When a pet is more predictable, as is the case with senior dogs, their placement also tends to be more successful," Thompson said in a statement. "And we find that the energy level and personalities of senior shelter pets works well with our own senior community of fosters and adopters."

While senior dogs are great to adopt, older dogs are some of the last to leave the shelter. Senior dogs only have a 25% adoption rate compared to 60% adoption rate for puppies, according to Pet Rescue Pilots.

The seniors-only flight was funded by the Grey Muzzle Organization, which has donated $3.8 million in grants to support its mission of vision of a world where "every senior dog thrives and no old dog dies alone and afraid."

"Many senior dogs from rural California shelters are enjoying their golden years in loving homes thanks to the wonderful work of Pet Rescue Pilots and their rescue network," Lisa Lunghofer, executive director of Grey Muzzle Organization, said in a statement.