Adopting Island Pets

Adopting Island Pets

Did you know that when you leave the British Virgin Islands the beautiful memories of your holiday, your Soggy Dollar t-shirt and your souvenir trinkets aren’t the only things that you can travel with? The islands have lots of adorable puppies and kittens looking for homes, that with a little bit of advanced planning could be accompanying you back to the United States! You can adopt your very own island pet.

The BVI has two licensed non-profit animal charities (PAW and ARC) that work tirelessly to spay and neuter as many of the stray animal population as they can. Both charities regularly trap and spay/neuter the stray animal population as well as assisting financially by paying the vet’s fees for those that cannot afford to neuter their pets themselves. Local veterinary clinic Canines, Cats and Critters is instrumental in achieving this.

ARC also partners with veterinary students at Tuft’s University in an annual Virgin Gorda spay and neuter clinic which will resume again this year after a two-year pause following the hurricane.

But, despite their herculean efforts, the number of unwanted pups and kittens continues to rise.

Because our population is small, the number of people willing and able to foster/adopt them is small. And that means there are more in need of homes than there are homes available. A situation further exacerbated by a rental shortage post-hurricane Irma and by many landlords choosing to exclude pets.

With adoption and fostering being inconsistent, evacuation is relied upon heavily for these unwanted animals. To cope with the surplus, PAW started their ‘PAWs in the AIR Escort Program’ and ARC also works on animal transportation to the States with either residents or tourists who are traveling.

Now, when traveling back to (or through) the US, you can take an adorable cabin companion and accompany them to the United States where you’ll be met by one of the US pet rescue charities that they partner with.

Our island pups and kittens stand a far better chance of finding their forever homes in the US.

Adopt an Island Pet - Animal Charities in the British Virgin Islands work to transport these pups to homes in the States

Photo by The Barefoot Angel

This blogger got a chance to try the program first hand when I traveled to NYC earlier this year and it couldn’t be more straight forward. We loved having our furry companions on the flight with us.

We were met at the ferry terminal (it doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling via ferry to St. Thomas or flying from the BVI airports, EIS or VIJ) by Natasha from PAW and the foster that the pups had been staying with. We had two gorgeous puppies in our carrier, a brother and sister – Lola and Gus.

Natasha handed us a bag which contained all their paperwork, leashes, food, water, medication and spare pee pads. PAW covers the cost of adding a cabin pet to your itinerary and that is arranged with the airline in advance, so we had cash for that too.

Escorting Puppies and Kittens to the United States for Adoption

Photo by The Barefoot Angel

We took them on the ferry to St. Thomas and then to the airport. We let them out briefly before going through security in order to give them a little food and water and to see if they needed to stretch their legs/have a bathroom break. And then we were ready to go!

They stayed in their carrier for the duration of the journey but had to come out to go through security. The carrier goes through with the rest of the bags and the pups go through the scanner with you.

*Note this is not recommended with kittens/cats. You can ask to be checked separately in a room.

The passengers next to me on my flight were completely unaware that I even had the pups with me, until I put the carrier on my lap in order to give them some fuss and love. (They didn’t come out of the carrier, I just partially unzipped it to put my hand in). They were so quiet and well-behaved!

Taking a cuddly cabin pet does not impact your carry-on allowance. I still traveled with a full-size carry-on and my handbag, in addition to the pet carrier and pet supplies.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY READING: How to travel with only your carry-on

When we arrived at JFK we were met at arrivals by the new foster parents. They then very sweetly gave us a lift into Midtown, which was an unexpected bonus.

Transporting island pets was so easy! We will definitely do it again, when our itinerary allows.

PAW sends pets to a number of US destinations – so I would encourage you to reach out and see if you can help!

 

Adopting an Island Pet and How you can help:

 

Step 1 – Donate:

Both PAW and ARC regularly host fund raisers and have donation pages. All the transportation costs and medical costs for these stray animals really mount up. One of the easiest ways that you can make a difference is to make a donation, no matter how big or how small.

Adopt Puppies and Kittens from the British Virgin Islands

Photo from PAW with permission.

Step 2 – Bring Supplies:

If you have space in your luggage when you come down, bring supplies! Small items like collars, leashes, flea and tick medication can all be used by the animal charities in the area.

The number one item requested by PAW is carriers for the escort program – the AmazonBasics Soft-sided Pet Travel Carrier in Large is perfect for their needs. They are reasonably priced and fold flat for easy packing and bringing with you.

Adopting Puppies from the British Virgin Islands - Island Dogs available in the United States

Photo from PAW with permission. 

Step 3 – Travel with a pet:

Consider escorting some pets if your itinerary allows it. The main destinations are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, NYC, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Hartford, Orlando, Pittsburg, Harrisburg, Columbus and more. Even if your final destination isn’t listed, contact PAW as they have other rescues that they can work with.

Send your itinerary to Natasha at pawbvi@gmail.com and she will coordinate with the local rescue. PAW will help add the cabin pet to your booking and make sure that all of the paperwork is in order before you travel. It is a really simple process.

All of the information for their transport program is detailed in their handy FAQs

If you are staying on Virgin Gorda please reach out to ARC at arcvirgingordabvi.com and they can assist in connecting you with their partners.

Step 4 – Foster an Island pet:

Both PAW and ARC are always looking for fosters. To keep animals out of the shelter they rely on residents opening their homes temporarily to these animals. If you are an animal lover, but you’re not ready to commit to a pet of your own, you could really help out by taking on some foster pets.

One of our favourite experiences was fostering a pup that we found on the beach, before he could be transported to Florida to find his ‘furever home’. Found injured and starving, we gave him two weeks of love and cuddles before he flew to the US. Since we already have three dogs (all originally strays or dogs that needed re-homing from the BVI) of our own, we were sadly never in a position to keep him. But, we were able to give him the loving foster home that he needed temporarily. Our little pup was re-homed through the fantastic team at Good Karma Pet Rescue in Fort Lauderdale.

(We still miss you little pup!)

Fostering Island Pets - Animal Charities rely on Foster homes before transporting these dogs and cats to the United States

Photo by The Barefoot Angel

Foster Pup - You can Foster and Adopt animals from the British Virgin Islands

Photo by The Barefoot Angel

Step 5 – Adopt an Island pet:

While you can’t just kidnap the pets you are transporting, if you know that you’re interested in adopting a dog or cat from the BVI that can be arranged in advance.

PAW will send pictures and details of all pets that they have available in foster care. There’s bound to be one that’s just perfect for you. Your new pet can then travel back home with you! You would be responsible for their cabin pet fees.

Adopting Pets from the British Virgin Islands

Photo from PAW with permission. 

Is any of this something that you would consider? Have you been tempted to take any of the island strays back with you? Leave a comment if you’ve got your own island pet stories!

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