Bruin the Jack Russell terrier was one of more than 400 dogs and cats that boarded the group’s ‘Independence Flights’ to freedom over the weekend

By Amy Jamieson
Updated July 12, 2016 08:46 PM

There was a lot of barking going on, for a very good reason.

Wings of Rescue, a non-profit group that shuttles animals in airplanes from California kill shelters to their new beginnings in other states, celebrated a whopper of a milestone this weekend: It flew its 20,000th pet one step closer to his forever home.

The lucky 20,000th passenger is named Bruin, and he’s an 8-year-old Jack Russell terrier who was given up to an L.A. shelter when his owner moved away. You can see him smiling in the video above, just before earning his wings on the flight.

Bruin was one of more than 400 dogs and cats that boarded Wings of Rescue’s “Independence Flights” to freedom over the weekend. Many of them, said a spokesperson, are the result of the July Fourth holiday weekend celebrations and recent wildlife fires.

Wings of Rescue partners with Kriser’s Natural Pet and St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, as well local shelters and rescue groups in the Seattle area, to safely airlift at-risk shelter dogs and cats from over-crowded animal shelters to new homes in the Pacific Northwest and East Coast.

The organization, which was founded in 2009, has a squadron of volunteer pilots flying missions in its own planes, according to the website.

“We could not do this without our volunteers, sending and receiving rescue organizations and our DONORS!!!” says a message on the group’s Facebook page, spotlighting the weekend mission which was piloted by Chris Cookson. “Wings of Rescue is looking to save 16,000 pets in 2016 but we need your help … no donation is too small.”

Thanks to these efforts, animals who would have otherwise faced a grim fate are now finding people to love them.

“My new puppy was on this flight, I just adopted him from PAWS today,” Keri Isbell wrote on Facebook, “thank you all so much for saving him!!!”

Go to to see how you can help the group save more lives.