160 at-risk dogs were flown into New Castle from Phoenix, Ariz. to find forever homes in the tri-state area.
Jerry Habraken / The News Journal

The cargo hatch on the small plane opened and from inside burst a cacophony of whimpers and barks.

Nearly 160 dogs were inside the propeller plane, more sardines than mutts as two or three of the animals shared most of the kennels, which themselves had to be tightly stacked.

They were wet, anxious and exhausted — and it was better than the alternative. 

The dogs had come from an over-crowded animal shelter in Phoenix, Arizona, where they likely would have been killed. But after landing at the New Castle County Airport Sunday, they were already on the way to finding new homes. 

“It’s no small feat, logistically, to get all those animals to us, but it’s necessary to save those animals’ lives,” said Linda Torelli, director of marketing and programs for the Brandywine Valley SPCA. 

The flight was funded by, a charity devoted to improving the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet and handled by Wings of Rescue, which specializes in airlifts of animals from at-risk situations, Torelli said. 

“It takes a village when it comes to saving animals,” she said

About 20 volunteers from the Brandywine Valley SPCA and St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center were on…