#OperationChihuahua: Virgin America Flies 12 Chihuahuas from San Francisco to New York for Adoption

Virgin America threw a St. Patrick's Day send-off Tuesday morning for a dozen Chihuahuas at San Francisco International Airport before airlifting the dogs to Newark Liberty International Airport, where they'll be put up for adoption in the New York area.

Volunteers escorted the dogs onto the plane for its 8 a.m. departure and were posting live in-flight updates to the airline's Instagram and Twitter feeds until their anticipated arrival at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

Dubbed #OperationChihuahua, the event is Virgin America's sixth such "airlift" in partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals since 2010. So far, they've transported more than 80 dogs, according to airline spokeswoman Patricia Condon.

Shelters in California are often overpopulated with the tiny dogs, but there's a high demand for Chihuahuas in New York City, according to Gail Buchwald, senior vice president for the ASPCA adoption center.

Virgin America is also launching a "Lucky Dog" sale on airfare, starting at $49 one way to destinations in the airline's western region, with taxes and fees included. Virgin America will donate $10 from each ticket sold to the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control.

Tickets must be purchased by 9:59 p.m. PDT Thursday and the flights must occur between April 7 and June 10.

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