President Donald Trump on Thursday declared that a major disaster exists in the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in the territory due to Hurricane Maria beginning on September 16 and continuing, according to a release issued by the White House. Others met at Gear's farm to take them to their new homes in places like Boston, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, North Carolina, Gear and the rescue groups consider the animals to be highly adoptable, even considering the harsh conditions they've been through. Many people have evacuated, but what happens to the animals?
Pets from all three of the U.S. Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix - were rescued after Hurricane Irma tore through the region but before Maria made landfall by Virginia Beach's Island Dog Rescue co-founder, Sali Gear.
Getting those dogs back to America was a bigger task than anything she'd done before, so Gear turned to the web for help. Those 300-plus animals landed safely in Virginia on Tuesday evening; each of them had a note taped to their kennels that read, "I survived Hurricane Irma".
"I did it because it had to be done", Gear told The Virginian-Pilot.
'I honestly, I was about to start crying, ' said volunter Tinsley Sarrett.
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"The puppy room and cat room are completely gone", Gear said. "Island dogs are like that".
Before and after the storm hit, Gear and a few friends worked to arrange for the animals to come to the states.
The pets were most likely experiencing some degree of trauma when they arrived: They'd been in cages since the storm hit, and many had lost their family members in the hurricane. They reached the USA two days before Hurricane Maria hit. They heard about the animals through social media, and didn't hesitate to help. "But the heart of people, no I'm not surprised by how people act", says Gear.
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.