Donations sought for hurricane-damage in the US Virgin Islands

CloseAnh Nguyen | Associate Artist

September 25, 2017: Thirty-two patients needing medical attention in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands were evacuated from Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center this past weekend.

The co-founder of Virginia Beach's Island Dog Rescue made a plan to steadily remove them from St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, flying 20 of them to America per day for one week.

That's where Island Dog Rescue, based out of Virginia Beach, comes in to help.

"They all seem happy", said Chris Sjolund, manager of animal rescue Hope for Life, which often works with Island Dog Rescue. USVI public water systems have been significantly impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma and subsequent flooding, including by a loss of electrical power, and are not yet fully able to provide adequately treated water to meet the needs of those affected areas.

"I did it because it had to be done", Gear told The Virginian-Pilot.

A group who flew down and retrieved the animals from overcrowded shelters also treated many animals while they were there. She said that that her crowdfunding effort began simply as "two people having Island Dog Rescue on social media creating a swell of support", and that "people have moved heaven and earth to make this happen". The animals landed safely in Norfolk, Virginia, around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

The dogs have been in cages since the storm hit - only being taken out for walks. Since then, she founded Island Dog Rescue, which as the name implies is focused on rescuing animals from the Virgin Islands.

Finally, the furry refugees landed in the U.S. on Tuesday, where volunteers cared for them at Gear's farm while foster homes or relatives of their owners could be found.

On Sept. 26, she loaded up a truck and a U-Haul and will drive some items down to Miami so they can be shipped to St. Croix.

Before and after the storm hit, Gear and a few friends worked to arrange for the animals to come to the states.

The animals were brought to Sali's ranch, where they eagerly wagged their tails and gave kisses to volunteers.

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