More than 60 dogs and cats displaced by Hurricane Sandy hitch a ride aboard a special Southwest Airlines flight to safe haven in San Diego (Credit: Southwest Airlines)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas-based Southwest Airlines partnered with SeaWorld on Saturday to relocate 60 orphaned animals from the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The dogs and cats, from Save A Pet on Long Island and Delco SPCA in Delaware County, were flown across the country on a Southwest Airlines chartered flight to Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The animal relocation is critical to make room for additional pets displaced by the storm.

“This is definitely a unique flight for Southwest Airlines,” said Chris Pupprecth, the Southwest Station Manager at Newark Airport.

Veterinarians and animal technicians from SeaWorld chaperoned the animals on the flight and provided ground transportation to get the animals closer to their California destination.

Once the animals arrived at the center, veterinarians were to evaluate and administer any necessary medical treatment, vaccinations, and will either spay or neuter the animals if necessary. The goal of the project is to place the animals with adoptive families in time for the holidays.

“I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve worked with animals for a long time, over 20 years or so,” said Jay Tracey, a rescue team bember with SeaWorld.

Flight crews with Southwest Airlines donated their time to make the event possible. BP Air donated the fuel for the cross-country flight.

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