Hundreds Of Cats And Dogs Evacuated From Islands Before Hurricane Hit

One woman is behind a phenomenal rescue effort which saved hundreds of homeless cats and dogs in the U.S. Virgin Islands from almost certain death. Sali Gear, founder of Island Dog Rescue in Virginia, was able to pull off the impressive feat with the help of the community, which came together to raise funds for a chartered plane and dozens of crates – everything that was required to save the homeless animals who were in the path of a devastating Category 5 hurricane.

This week, before Hurricane Maria hit the islands, over 300 cats and dogs were loaded up and flown back to the United States…safely out of harm’s way. Through social media efforts, $112,000 was raised for the chartered flight and animal shelters in the path of the destructive hurricane were cleared…without any assistance from a government agency.

In an interview, Gear, who grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands herself, said:

“I have to be honest, if we hadn’t cleared the shelters all of these cats and dogs would have been euthanized.”

She explained that there is simply no place for the pets to go – people have lost their homes, belongings, and businesses and “animals are not their priority.”

Amazingly, the hundreds of animals who arrived to the United States on Tuesday have already been placed with rescue agencies. Island Dog Rescue updated Facebook followers about the current status of the rescue effort on Wednesday afternoon:

We are wrapping up things on our end. It has been a long few days with hours and days rolling together. All the dogs and cats have been adopted or placed in partner rescues. When things are this magnanimous one has to work quickly. We are not an adoption center normally, but a pass through for dogs looking for homes. Since this unique opportunity presents itself, I would encourage you to look at area shelters for unwanted animals.

Gear commented on the generosity of the people who helped make this epic rescue effort possible in an interview with WAVY News, “I think sometimes how word gets out on social media surprises me.  But the heart of people, no I’m not surprised by how people act.”

Fundraiser, with detailed updates, at this link.

Watch an interview with Sali Gear here.

Island Dog Rescue on Facebook here.


Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.


  1. Lisa Blanck says:

    I was very concerned about animals on the islands. Thanks for the update.

  2. TERRY FURLONG says:


  3. TERRY FURLONG says:


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