Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has made eight rescue trips to receive and transport 200 dogs and cats from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since January.
These rescue missions were successful thanks to the hard work of our shelter staff, and with the help of our friends at Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City hurricane-relief charity. Love for Love City has rescued over 1,000 shelter animals from the devastated island of St. John – in fact, after they complete an upcoming rescue mission where they’ll bring another 135 animals to the states, they’ll have rescued every single shelter animal on the island.
Kenny’s tour manager, Jill, helped coordinate rescue efforts with Kathy and our shelter staff. She took some time to talk with us about how Kenny got started with animal rescue, what it means to them, and how Pet Alliance has played an integral part in getting so many dogs and cats to safety.
Why did Love for Love City Foundation decide to start rescuing animals from the USVI?
After 30 days of focusing on hurricane relief for the people of St. John, Kenny looked at me and said, “Who is helping and saving the animals? You know that if we are the only ones helping the people, then the animals need our help too.” Kenny’s dog Cookie was put on the first flight that we did out of St. John. After three weeks at home with us, Cookie passed away in our arms. This sparked Kenny in thinking that if Cookie needed help, lots more fur babies needed our help!
How many animals have you transported and how many rescues have you worked with?
We have rescued 1000 babies to date. From our first dog rescue in October to date, we have had 23 rescues assist us. They are located in West Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Virginia Beach, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and St Louis.
How would you say Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has helped your efforts?
Without the help of Pet Alliance and Kathy, we would not have been able to bring back nearly as many dogs per flight. Our plane has to land in West Palm to unload and then fly on to other states. Without Pet Alliance taking such large numbers from us in Florida, we would not have been able to fit them all on a plane to North Carolina, Virginia, or Boston. Our numbers would have been cut in half. Especially since Kathy would be willing to take large dogs and pit mixes which so many rescues across the country will not even consider.
What does it mean to you to be able to rescue these dogs and help find them new homes?
Not only has it been a life-changing experience for all of us to rescue animals from two Category 5 hurricanes, it has been an even better experience getting to see the people that were forced to give up their pets due to not having a home or resources to care for them any longer. They surrendered them to us to bring to the states and trusted us to find homes for them. Kathy receives stories of the babies in their new homes, and we’re able to keep the original owners in communication with the new families to let them be at peace knowing that they did the right thing and that their babies will be ok!
Do you have a story of any particular animal that stole your heart since you started doing this?
SWEET PEA!!! She is my story that will change my life forever!!! After 884 animals, she is the one that grabbed my heart for life. I received a picture of her on Christmas Eve when we were planning a rescue for the first week of January. We thought we had a complete list and were finished planning what rescues would take all 225 animals that we were bringing in. Sweet Pea arrived to the Humane Society of St. Thomas emaciated with a broken leg, anemia, intestinal parasites, and a full laundry list of problems. I sent her picture to Kathy knowing that the second she would land she would need immediate care and a leg amputation. Kathy never flinched and said “YES, of course.” I even texted her and emailed her every other day to ask if she was positive knowing that it was going to be a long road for Sweet Pea and very costly to Pet Alliance. Every day, she assured me that she was totally prepared. Pet Alliance nursed Sweet Pea back to health, taking her to swim therapy to build up her strength for surgery. She also found a foster that decided to keep her forever (Note from Pet Alliance: The foster failure who adopted Sweet Pea is our Customer Care Manager, Candyce, who is now known as Hops!) Kathy sent me constant updates and pictures to ease my mind as well as everyone involved with Sweet Pea from day one. She is now a happy, healthy, puppy!
Pet Alliance is thrilled and honored to work with Love for Love City to find forever homes for dogs and cats that have nowhere else to turn. The place they lived was destroyed, and they had no one to help them. Because of these rescue missions, they are now safe and either in, or waiting for, their forever homes.
Your donations help Pet Alliance complete rescue missions and care for medically needy dogs like Sweet Pea. Make a gift today and help us create more rags to riches stories like Sweet Pea’s.