Virgin America Launches 'Operation Chihuahua'

Virgin America, San Francisco Animal Care and Control and the ASPCA Initiate Chihuahua Airlift

Jan 06, 2010, 11:59 ET from Virgin America

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- San Francisco's hometown airline, Virgin America, is assisting the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SF ACC) by flying Chihuahuas from San Francisco to New York today so the dogs can be adopted into loving new homes. The massive overpopulation of Chihuahuas in California is forcing animal shelters on the West Coast to look to shelters on the East Coast for help - where there is demand for the dogs. The SF ACC asked Virgin America to spare a seat to fly Chihuahuas who might not otherwise have found homes in California. Virgin America teammates volunteered to escort the little dogs on the flights to the East Coast and will track their journey with real-time in-flight updates via the airline's WiFi service.




"We're pleased to help San Francisco Animal Care and Control fly these little guys out to the East Coast so they can be placed in adoptive homes," said Ross Bonanno, Vice President of Airports and Guest Services at Virgin America. "As the only airline headquartered here in San Francisco, we take a great interest in our community - and many of our teammates and guests are dog lovers, so of course, we just had to do this."

Virgin America sends the dogs off in high-style today with a red carpet departure from a San Francisco International Airport gate, complete with champagne cocktail "Chi-mosas" and cupcakes for flight guests and doggie treats and toys for the Chihuahuas. While onboard, the dogs will get a glimpse of the service named the best in America in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards and Conde Nast Traveler's Readers Choice Awards. Virgin America offers guests and Chihuahuas alike a unique flying experience, complete with mood-lit cabins, touch-screen entertainment and Gogo® In-flight Internet on every flight. To find out what the Chihuahuas are up to in-flight today, dog-lovers can visit the airline's Facebook page which will feature videos and photos posted from 35,000 feet via in-flight WiFi between 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET.

"The San Francisco Animal Care and Control couldn't be more pleased to partner with our hometown airline -on the Chihuahua airlift today," said Rebecca Katz, Director of the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control. "We have a severe overpopulation of Chihuahuas here in California. Virgin America's offer to fly the these little guys out to the East Coast will help us place them into loving homes that they couldn't have found here in California."

The Chihuahuas will be escorted by an SF ACC staff veterinarian and Virgin America teammates during the flight to New York. The dogs will arrive at 4:00pm ET today at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and will be received by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®).

"We are glad to be given this opportunity to help meet demand for these dogs in New York and at the same time help find loving homes for San Francisco's homeless animals," said Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Adoption Center. "These Chihuahuas will need a little time to settle in once they arrive, and we will make them ready to meet prospective adopters later next week after receiving full behavioral and medical assessments. The public can learn more about the Chihuahuas by visiting or calling 212-876-7700 ext 3210."

Since its launch in August 2007, Virgin America has won a list of industry best-in-class awards for its topnotch service and fun, tech-savvy amenities. The airline's Red(TM) touch-screen entertainment platform offers 25 films, live TV, Google Maps, music videos, videogames, and an on-demand menu that allows guests to order what they want, when they want it. Virgin America offers standard power outlets at every seat. In May 2009, Virgin America became the first airline to offer in-flight WiFi service on every flight. Virgin America offers more than 100 flights a day with service to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Orange County and Fort Lauderdale. The airline currently offers daily flights from: SFO to LAX, SFO to JFK, SFO to SAN, SFO to IAD, SFO to LAS, LAX to JFK, LAX to IAD, SFO to SEA, SEA to LAX, JFK to LAS, BOS to LAX, BOS to SFO, SFO to SNA and LAX to FLL and SFO to FLL.

About the San Francisco Department of Animal Care & Control: The San Francisco Department of Animal Care & Control is a taxpayer-funded, open door animal shelter. SF ACC adopts out a variety of animals and provides housing, care and medical treatment to wild, exotic and domestic stray, lost, abandoned, sick, injured and/or surrendered animals. SF ACC aims to rehome or reunite domestic animals with their guardians, and to rehabilitate and release wildlife to their native habitat. SF ACC responds to animal related emergencies 24/7 including animal abuse and neglect as well as matters of public safety.

About the ASPCA®: Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation's leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit

About Virgin America: Virgin America is one of the fastest growing start-up U.S. airlines of all time. The airline's new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets at seat for electronic gear. Virgin America offers in-flight internet on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the U.S. skies via its touch-screen Red(TM) system. The airline was named "Best Domestic Airline" in the Condé Nast Traveler 2008 and 2009 Readers' Choice Awards and in Travel + Leisure's 2008 and 2009 World's Best Awards. Virgin America has flown +6.2 million guests since its inaugural flights in August 2007 and now counts 1.2 million Elevate loyalty program members. For more:

EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S. controlled and operated airline and an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.

SOURCE Virgin America