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Bissell Pet Foundation, local shelters team up to rescue more than 150 pets

The shelters the pets came from are all overcrowded and needed help before Louisiana's summer storm season picks up.

HOLLAND, Mich. — More than 150 dogs and cats are ready for new homes here in Michigan. The pets were flown to West Michigan Regional Airport in Holland from several different shelters in Louisiana.

"I get excited with every adoption that walks out the door," says Sara Ybema, medical director for Harbor Humane Society in Ottawa County. "And immediately make a difference in their lives in one fell swoop? It's the best feeling ever." 

Bissell Pet Foundation funded the trip, which has been in the works for more than a month.

"It's just such a great feeling to see it all come together," says Jen Self-Aulgur, executive director of Harbor Humane Society.

The shelters the pets came from are all overcrowded and needed help before Louisiana's summer storm season picks up.

"The shelters are just bursting at the seams and they don't know what to do with all the dogs that they have," says Ybema.

Harbor Humane Society and 11 other shelters around the state volunteered to lighten the load on the shelters down south. Ybema says the wide variety of breeds will help draw interest to get the dogs adopted quicker.

"We got in two Great Pyrenees. Those are not dogs that I would like to take home to my house, that's a lot of hair," says Ybema. "But for somebody, that's their perfect dog."

Coming from shelters, the pets are all in good health but will get some checkups before being put up for adoption, which should be within a couple days.

"The 150-plus dogs that came up today will be spayed, neutered, microchipped," says Jen Nuernberg, Harbor Humane's development director.

Self-Aulgur encourages adoptions, saying they save two lives at once.

"You save the life of that animal you take home and you open up a cage for another animal that needs that help," she says.

Hearing all the happy dogs and cats come off the plane, Harbor Humane Society counts the rescue as a success.

"I did get teary eyed," says Self-Aulgur. "My staff was mocking me when the plane landed because it is such an emotional feeling to know that we're saving these lives."

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