Virginia Beach pet rescue group transports dogs from earthquake-hit Puerto Rico

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — They rescue Caribbean dogs year-round, but right now a Virginia Beach nonprofit is working overtime. Island Dog Rescue brings dogs in every few days from the rubble of Puerto Rico.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this – a lot of puzzle pieces,” said Sali Gear, who runs Island Dog Rescue.

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

“That’s our specialty: transportation and relocation,” Gear said.

Gear grew up in Sainte-Croix and is also a pilot for a commercial airline. So she knows how to move pets in distress to a safe haven – and quickly.

“The hardest hit area was the western part of the island,” she said.

After the earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Gear began rallying his troops, working to help pull the animals out of the rubble while their owners also worked to find safe shelter.

“Honestly, a lot of them after Hurricane Maria lost their lives and they’re feeling defeated, so they’re telling us to take the dog to a good home,” Gear said.

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

“We don’t just pick up the animals and transfer them; we have to make sure the medical protocol is in place and we also pay,” Gear said.

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

“These dogs will be perfect for adoption. They are healthy, vaccinated, wormed and ready for forever homes.”

Island Dog Rescue pays for all flights, food, and medical care through donation assistance. If you’d like to help out, head over to their Facebook page here.

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