Southwest and SeaWorld give cross-country flight to stranded hurricane pets

East Coast pets left stranded by Hurricane Sandy received first-class treatment from Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld, according to Travelers Today.

The airline flew 60 dogs and cats from the New York/New Jersey area to Southern California, sparing the animals from probable death in the storm-affected areas’ overcrowded shelter systems.

Southwest’s flight crew donated its time to provide coast-to-coast transport for the animals, while oil and gas company BP footed the bill for the plane’s gas, Travelers Today reported. And to ensure the safety and comfort of the animals during the flight, veterinarians and technicians from SeaWorld accompanied them along the way.

The animals were flown to Helen Woodward Animal Center - a no-kill shelter in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. - where they will be spayed or neutered and given vaccinations before being put up for adoption.

According to Travelers Today, the effort was spurred on by Jessica Gercke, public relations manager at Helen Woodward Animal Center. Gercke reportedly reached out to Southwest and SeaWorld to gauge their interest in providing long-distance transportation for the animals.

CBS News in Dallas reported that the Helen Woodward Animal Center aims to have all of the animals cared for and adopted in time for the holidays.