Crusading Hollywood legend Doris Day is airlifting more than 100 animals from flood-stricken Louisiana to safety as part of a huge charity operation.

The blonde PILLOW TALK star heads The Doris Day Animal Foundation, launched in 1988 to spay and neuter pets as well as promote the humane treatment of animals.

But in a massive departure from their usual activities, the foundation is preparing to embark on a large-scale disaster relief operation costing around $20,000 (GBP11,100) to rescue pets caught up in Hurricane Katrina.

The mission will see the actress charter a flight from rural New Iberia, Louisiana, to the Santa Cruz Society for the Prevention

of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in California, after a previously scheduled air transport failed to take place. The animals will be temporarily looked after by volunteers until their owners can collect them.

Holly Hazard, executive director of Day's charity, says, "People left animals in cages, they left them in attics. There was no understanding (on the part of government officials) about the importance of this emotional bond between people and their pets.

"We know what those animals have been through, and now they have no place to go."