The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society welcomes newcomers to Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport

Sydney Galley, right, gives a kiss on Sunday afternoon to one of 13 dogs she and her husband flew to Auburn-Lewiston Airport from Florida in a twin-engine plane. Animal control officer Wendell Strout, left, is on hand to help his daughter, Delainey, and other Greater Androscoggin Humane Society staff. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society welcomed several adult dogs and puppies on Sunday afternoon who were airlifted to Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport from Florida.

GAHS volunteers and airport workers greeted the flight on the tarmac before the dogs were moved to a van to be taken to the shelter.

Thirteen dogs – six adults and seven puppies – were brought to Maine in conjunction with X-Port Paws of Wellington, Florida as part of the GAHS “Home to Vacationland” program.

The breed mix comes from various animal rescues throughout Georgia.

“They are a good mix. We like to call them 100% shelter dogs,” said Kaitlin True, GAHS canine coordinator. “They were really awesome. They were super happy to get off the plane and really excited to go pee, but they were super nice and dove straight into the crates. I think they know they’re home.

Delanie Strout, transportation coordinator for the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, transports Ed onto the tarmac Sunday afternoon at Auburn Lewiston-Airport. Ed is one of 13 dogs who were flown to Maine from Florida. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

This is the first time GAHS has received a flight with animals in the shelter, although it has received airlifted pets from other states in partnership with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

The dogs were driven from Georgia to Florida and then flown to Maine after local rescues and shelters rounded up the most needy dogs.

Sydney Galley, rescue coordinator at Rocco’s Heartland Ranch in Columbus, North Carolina, and her husband flew the small plane full of dogs back to Maine.

“This work is extremely important because we are truly saving lives,” said Katie Lisnik, executive director of GAHS. “We work with rescues and shelters all over the southern part of the country which are overcrowded and overwhelmed, and it’s getting animals into loving homes and out of shelters where they’re languishing.”

Pilot Jerry Stevens says goodbye to the last dog to get off his plane Sunday afternoon after he and his wife transported 13 dogs from Florida to Auburn-Lewiston Airport, where they were picked up by members of the staff of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Photos and descriptions of the dogs are due to be posted on the GAHS website – www.gahumane.org – early this week and be available for adoption from August 20, although some are going directly to families in welcome.

Arrived safe and sound, the journey is not over for the dogs. The next and most crucial step is to find the right homes for them. GAHS staff members said they were counting on the public’s help.

“We rely on host families to help us do this job,” Lisnik said. “If anyone is interested in adopting a puppy or a dog, it’s only for a short time. We place them in foster homes for the state-required quarantine period, and then they come back to us for adoption.

“It’s funny. It might be a little dirty and messy, but it’s really important and it allows us to help more. If we have foster homes, we can bring in more dogs and puppies and place them in loving homes.

Kaitlyn True, canine coordinator at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, carries Eddie onto the tarmac Sunday afternoon at Auburn Lewiston-Airport. Eddie is one of 13 dogs airlifted from Florida. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


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Jennifer R. Strohm