Last updated: 05:10 PM ET, Tue March 17 2015

Virgin America Launches 'Operation Chihuahua' Airlift

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | March 17, 2015

Virgin America Launches 'Operation Chihuahua' Airlift

Photo courtesy of Virgin America

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day and its "Lucky Dog" fare sale, California-based airline Virgin America lent a hand to San Francisco Animal Care & Control on Tuesday, flying a group of abandoned chihuahuas across the country to animal shelters on the East Coast. 

The hope is that the dogs will be adopted shortly after arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport this week. 

"It is great to partner once again with Virgin America to help these animals find a loving and caring home on the East Coast," said SF ACC director Virginia Donohue. "With California having a major overpopulation of chihuahuas, this partnership has continued to help us in our mission to find families for these animals in need. While these lucky dogs are on their way to be adopted on the East Coast – Bay Area residents interested in adopting a pet can make tails wag by visiting their local shelter today." 

Operation Chihuahua kicked off at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday morning, complete with a green carpet send-off for St. Patrick's Day. The event was hosted by Virgin America's official "pet liason" Boo and Frida, the Dog Mayor of San Francisco. 

This week's airlift marks the sixth Virgin America has organized since 2010. 

"Virgin America is thrilled to once again help out our friends and neighbors at San Francisco Animal Care and Control who work so hard to take care of animals in need in our city," said Frances Fiorillo, senior vice president of People and InFlight at Virgin America, in a statement.

"This is now a favorite and beloved partnership for us and our teammates—who volunteer to fly as annual companions in order to get these pups to loving homes on the East Coast."

Operation Chihuahua was launched simultaneously with Virgin America's Lucky Dog fare sale, which offers one-way fares for as low as $49, with $10 from each purchase being donated to the SF ACC. 

Tickets went on sale on Tuesday and will be available through midnight CST on Thursday. 

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