'I Didn't Want to Land': the Story Behind the Viral TikTok of the Airplane Full of Puppies
By now, there's a pretty good chance you're one of the millions who've seen 26-year-old Cassandra Bergeron's super-viral TikTok post, the one featuring a small plane filled to the max with downright precious puppies.
The 27 dogs looked to be loving their 90-minute plane ride from Alabama to Orlando, Fla., a flight that likely saved them from euthanization, Bergeron tells Daily Paws. The dogs were whisked off to several different rescues and shelters when the plane touched down—even though Bergeron was certainly in no hurry.
"I was in pure bliss. I didn't want to land," she says. "I couldn't stop smiling the entire time."
While Bergeron posted the TikTok last Thursday, the rescue flight actually occurred back in July. Her friend is training to become a pilot and asked if she wanted to volunteer on the rescue flight, so the dog-loving Bergeron jumped at the chance.
She and her friends accompanied Michael Young, a University of Central Florida professor and pilot who spearheads the Alabama Puppy Rescue Flights. They took off from Orlando and landed at the airport in Enterprise, Ala. Soon, the puppies joined them, arriving on planes from other Alabama locales: Gadsden, Monroe, Butler, and Luverne. The pickup was organized by Animal Rescue Relay.
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They were on the ground for about an hour, Bergeron says. They made sure they had each dogs' records and cleaned some of them up. Then they fed each of them a little honey to quell any nausea—"they loved that," she says—and let them run around and play for a while so they would be nice and tired for the return flight. They're very, very cute.
"They were so happy to see people," Bergeron says.
Then it was takeoff time. The four humans boarded first, and then volunteers fit as many dogs as they could into the plane. In all, 27 fit in the aircraft. Bergeron was tasked with the littlest (and chonkiest) puppies in the front passenger seat while her friends in the back were basically submerged in about 20 dogs. The humans had taken virtually nothing with them on the flight so they could fit in as many dogs as possible.
The dogs were calm for the short flight, perhaps a product of pre-flight playtime. Bergeron and her friends' job was to make sure they didn't bother the pilot, which they did not. The only downside was a few puppy accidents, Bergeron says. Well, she and her friends were actually more than a little "soaked" but that's OK!
As you can see in the TikTok viewed more than 12 million times, Bergeron's friend also did an admiral job of keeping the 6-month-old bigger dog in the back of the plane. Now, she's heard the pup is training to become a police dog.
About 15 other volunteers were waiting on the ground in Orlando when they landed. They loaded up the pups and took them to Florida rescues where they would soon be up for adoption. That day, the puppies went to: Abby's Animal Rescue; Creengan Canine Rescue; Openheart—Rescue Division; Save a Life Pet Rescue; All Paws on Deck; A Forever Home Rescue; and Florida Pointer Rescue. (For those wondering, the July dogs are almost certainly all adopted by now, but we're sure these rescues still have available dogs.)
Some shelters in the southern states have faced overcrowding in recent years (including very recently), in several cases putting dogs at risk of euthanasia. That means the folks running Alabama Puppy Rescue Flights, who seem to retrieve puppies every week, have likely saved many canine lives. Young has helped rescue some 7,000 dogs.
Bergeron didn't imagine her video catching fire as much as it did, but the response has been mostly kind and words of thanks. People who rescue dogs in other countries have even asked about helping out. For her part, Bergeron went on a couple more rescue flights after the one in July. She's since moved to Atlanta. Otherwise, she would've helped even more.
"There's no better place than the seat on that plane," she says.
This story has been corrected to reflect the accurate flight time and rightly describe how the dogs arrived at the Enterprise airport. They arrived after Young's plane touched down.