Riverside cats flown to new homes in Oregon


"There is a line in Oregon, they have a waiting lists for our small dogs and our large dogs and our cats," said Veronica Ferrantelli.

Ferrantelli is with Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team, or S.T.A.R.T. She says Oregon has a much more aggressive spay and neuter program, which has reduced the unwanted pet population there. The non-profit organization is transporting the 51 cats to the Pacific Northwest to be adopted out.

"We don't have a lot of cat rescue groups. So to get this many cats out of our shelter in one, essentially, swoop, it's pretty amazing," said John Welsh with Riverside County Animal Services.

Riverside County Animal Services has struggled to increase the rate of cat adoptions. Recently, the agency dropped its adoption fee from $85 to $15. Even so, far more dogs than cats are taken home.

The organization is not only rescuing cats, they are also taking a handful of dogs -- mostly puppies -- with them, all except for one girl Chihuahua. She stayed behind, because ABC7 reporter Leticia Juarez fell in love with her and took her home.

So instead of 16 dogs, just 15 headed to Oregon with their feline friends.

S.T.A.R.T. will also provide the funding to spay and neuter unaltered animals once they arrive.

"The transports along with our spay and neuter clinics which are vital. We're really making a difference," said Ferrantelli.

In all, 66 animals boarded a private plane bound for new homes.

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