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Thanks to one pilot, there’s a new cuddly way to help with Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief

Southwest rescues stray animals from Puerto Rico Pin It
Photo: Instagram/@southwestair

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico when it hit last year. And as people rushed to find safety from the storm, some pets, sadly, were left behind. But one pilot recently sought to save many of these animals.

According to Travel + Leisure, David “Fig” Newton—the Southwest Airlines pilot with possibly the best nickname ever—aimed to rescue as many abandoned dogs and cats on the island as possible, with support from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington D.C and the aircraft carrier company. After flying 14,000 pounds of supplies from Texas to Puerto Rico with a volunteer crew, the team brought 62 strays to safety at Lucky Dog in the nation’s capital.

“Somewhere along the flight we turned the seat belt sign off, and I kind of expected the puppies to come out, and I heard they had a puppy parade in the back.” —David “Fig” Newton, Southwest Airlines pilot

“It’s a different kind of service,” Newton said of the experience. “Somewhere along the flight, we turned the seat belt sign off, and I kind of expected the puppies to come out, and I heard they had a puppy parade in the back. When we got over to land, we said welcome to the United States, that’s kind of a big thing to us.”

While about a third of animals have been adopted by families local to D.C., Travel + Leisure reported, some cuddly companions may still be looking for a forever home. And if you aren’t able to permanently rescue a furry friend from this Puerto Rico trip, there are plenty of animals everywhere that could use a permanent loving owner.

You really need to meet the healthy (and adorable!) it-dogs of Instagram. Also, here’s why everyone is replacing their weights with dogs.