SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Decked out in their new Christmas sweaters, Lady and her fellow orphan Chihuahuas nervously awaited their flight to new homes in New York on Monday.

The 22 young dogs were taking part in the annual Chihuahua airlift, sponsored by San Francisco’s Department of Animal Care and Control and Virgin America Airlines.

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“The bus to the airport was crazy today,” said Virginia Donahue, the department’s director, with a smile. “I can’t imagine what this flight is going to be like.”

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For the last seven years, the department has taken advantage of an abundance of orphaned Chihuahuas in San Francisco to fill a need for the bred across the country.

“The New York area has a shortage,” Donahue said. “We are delighted to be flying 22 Chihuahuas to new homes in New York today… It’s huge — to place 22 dogs in new homes.”

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Abby Lunardini, marketing director for Virgin America, said the airline has been a willing provider for the airlift for the last seven years.
“We are big animal lovers ourselves so we are onboard (with the project),” she said.