One by one, each of the animal-carrier crates came off the small cargo airplane, was placed onto a conveyor belt, and then put into a transport vehicle to be taken to shelters in Fort Lauderdale, Loxahatchee or Sarasota.
Each animal carrier was occupied by a dog or cat whose previous home was Louisiana, and each carrier had a plastic cup attached filled with drinking water. The cups, nostalgically, and perhaps humorously, were from various bars in Louisiana.
In all, more than 80 dogs and cats made the flight to Fort Lauderdale from Louisiana, where Hurricane Ida, which roared ashore with 150 mile-per-hour winds last week, cut off electricity and running water to many animal shelters.
The Broward Humane Society accepted 46 kittens and 15 dogs, and the other animals were divided between Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee and the Sarasota Humane Society. The flight, which landed at National Jets at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, was arranged by Greater Good Charities, which is based in Seattle, and it's Good Flights program.
"These are animals that were in shelters during Hurricane Ida," said Cherie Wachter, vice president of marketing for the Humane Society of Broward County. "So, it's really important for us to help those shelters and get those animals out of the area."
Wachter said Hurricane Ida was likely a stressful time for the animals.
"I can't imagine what it was like for the animals to ride out the storm in those shelters," she said. "From what we understand their buildings are still standing but, again, they're without water and without electricity."
Saturday's arrivals came from seven Louisiana parishes, including three parishes that were directly affected by Hurricane Ida.
"All of these pets were in shelters and available for adoption before Ida hit," said Erin Robbins, director of transport for Greater Good Charities.
The Humane Society of Broward County accepted 36 dogs and 12 cats from Louisiana shelters about a week ago. They've worked with Greater Good Charities many times in the past, including when Hurricane Irma seemed poised to hit South Florida in 2017.
The Humane Society of Broward County, a private non-profit that has 80 staffers and more than 500 volunteers, flew most of its occupants to California to make room for dogs and cats it accepted from the Florida Keys. Wachter said many shelters are good about helping each other.
"Anytime there is a natural disaster there's many shelters that step up, they coordinate with the different flights and the animals are flown to different areas," she said.
Robbins said many people helped her prepare before Saturday's flight departed Louisiana. She said volunteers drove from as far as four hours away to make sure the pets had adequate food and water for the trip.
After the animals are given time to rest, they'll be given wellness checks and vaccinations and should be ready for adoption in a few days.
"The South Florida community has stepped up in the past," Wachter said. "These animals have found homes quickly. Unfortunately, because of COVID, at the shelter we are by appointment only."
Prospective pet owners can view the pets online, then fill out an application to set an appointment for a visit to the shelter, which is located at 20270 Griffin Road, one block west of Interstate 95.
"I tell people to be patient," Wachter said. "If you fall in love as you're window shopping online, do the application and submit it."