Last week, the ASPCA began the process of concluding our work in the U.S. Virgin Islands after spending more than three months assisting those affected by the devastation of Hurricane Maria. At the request of FEMA and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, the ASPCA deployed its disaster response team in late September and provided assistance through animal search-and-rescue, emergency sheltering for displaced animals, reunification efforts for lost pets, critical pet supply distribution and relocation of hundreds of homeless animals to rescue groups in the States where they were made available for adoption. Last week also marked the final life-saving flight for 80 remaining animals, who, through the help of Wings of Rescue, safely made their way to the mainland, where they could begin their journeys toward loving homes.
“As the ASPCA winds down its three-month-long hurricane response operation in St. Croix, we are focusing on relocating the remaining homeless animals in our care to rescue groups in the States to improve their chances to find safe and loving homes,” said Dick Green, Senior Director of ASPCA Disaster Response. “The ASPCA has helped transport hundreds of animals from its emergency shelter so far, and we are grateful to work with Wings of Rescue and our dedicated response partners to make this life-saving effort possible.”
All in all, more than 100 ASPCA field responders have been working around the clock since September, and nearly 22,000 animals were assisted in our time on the island, mostly through the distribution of critical supplies. Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands and severely damaged St. Croix’s only animal shelter, causing it to temporarily shut down its daily operations. Our responders worked on the ravaged island to rescue companion animals including cats, dogs and horses, and veterinary and behavior experts provided critical support for displaced and homeless animals until they could be reunited with their families or transported to the States to find new loving homes.
“Our work in St. Croix illustrates the devastating effects of natural disasters, and how a coordinated response by local and national agencies can save and protect animals by providing direct care, delivering supplies, and relocating animals to improve their chances of finding safe and loving homes,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “The work is challenging, but we were proud to be on the ground alongside our partners doing everything possible to help animals and owners in need.”
As we leave the island, we feel confident that the work that we have done over the past few months has provided the people and animals of St. Croix with a hopeful future to continue to rebuild what was lost in the storm. In honor of all the hard work put into this extensive disaster relief over the past few months, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the groups that supported our work during this difficult time:
Cat Depot, Sarasota, FloridaCharleston Animal Society, North Charleston, South CarolinaDays End Farm, Woodbine, MarylandDenver Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado Grand Strand Humane Society, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina GreaterGood, Seattle, WashingtonGulf Coast Humane Society, Fort Myers, FloridaHalifax Humane Society, Daytona Beach, FloridaHumane Society of Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, FloridaHumane Society of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina Humane Society of North Texas, Fort Worth, Texas Humane Society of Vero Beach, Vero Beach, FloridaLouisiana SPCA, New Orleans, LouisianaNate’s Honor Animal Rescue, Bradenton, FloridaNebraska Humane Society, Omaha, Nebraska Oregon Humane Society, Portland, Oregon Osceola County Animal Services, St. Cloud, FloridaPlenty of Pit Bulls, Gainesville, FloridaSPCA of North Brevard, Titusville, FloridaWashington State Animal Response Team, Enumclaw, WashingtonWayside Waifs, Kansas City, Missouri