Virginia pet rescue flying in dogs from earthquake-stricken Puerto Rico

Posted at 8:31 AM, Jan 16, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - They rescue dogs from the Caribbean all year round, but right now, a Virginia Beach nonprofit is working overtime.

Island Dog Rescue is bringing in dogs every few days from the rubble in Puerto Rico.

"There are a lot of moving parts to this - a lot of pieces of the puzzle," said Sali Gear, who runs Island Dog Rescue.

Gear and volunteers were busy Wednesday afternoon at a farm in Virginia Beach, preparing for an influx of more than 40 dogs.

"This is our specialty: Transportation and relocation," Gear said.

Gear grew up in St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Carribean, and is also a pilot for a commercial airline, so she's got the inside track on how to move pets in distress to a safe haven — and fast.

"The hardest-hit area was the west part of the island," she said.

After a series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Gear started rallying her troops, working to help get animals out of the rubble while their owners also worked to find a safe shelter.

"Honestly, a lot of them after Hurricane Maria have lost their life, and they feel defeated, so they tell us to take the dog so it has a good home," Gear said.

For the past week, volunteers have been loading the dogs from Puerto Rico and flying them to Florida. Then, the dogs travel in vans to Virginia Beach.

"We don't just take the animals and transfer them; we have to make sure the medical protocol is in place, and we pay for that, too," Gear. said

The farm will just be a hub or a holding area for the dogs when they arrive. They will be dispersed to different rescue groups across the state in hopes they will be fostered out or adopted.

"These dogs will be perfect to adopt," she said. "They are healthy, vaccinated, de-wormed and ready for a forever home."

Island Dog Rescue pays for all the flights, food, and medical care through the help of donations. If you would like to help, head to their Facebook page here.

This story was originally published by Chelsea Donovan on WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia.