By Kay Whatley, Editor
A nondescript building on highway 70 in Garner NC, just past Agri-Supply, houses the SPCA of Wake County’s holding center, where animals come to be prepared for adoption. On Tuesday, December 19, 2017, the holding center welcomed two dogs and 16 puppies from the island of St. Croix.
St. Croix is one of the US Virgin Islands and, like Puerto Rico 40 miles to the West, is a US territory. Residents have US citizenship, and transport of animals closely resembles US state-to-state transport.
The island took a heavy hit from Hurricane Maria within hours of its neighbor, Puerto Rico, when the hurricane blew through on September 20, 2017 — exactly three months ago. SPCA took in 39 dogs from Puerto Rico in October. The dogs from St. Croix come via a connection SPCA maintains with an NCSU veterinary school graduate working at St. Croix Animal Welfare Center (AWC).
Before the storm hit, St. Croix AWC was evacuated and all animals moved to safety. The center was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Since then, St. Croix Animal Welfare Center has been busy helping people on the island who need vet health certificates to relocate from St. Croix with their pets.
They’ve also been helping strays and animals left behind. The St. Croix AWC used its “Paws From Paradise” program to transfer homeless pets off-island to adoptive mainland homes. According to Dr. Michelle Mehalick of the St. Croix AWC:
“We are exceptionally grateful that our wonderful crucian [canines] were accepted to stateside shelters and hopeful that we can build our network of sister shelters through this tragedy.”
Crucian is a term which means someone living on or from the island of Saint Croix.
In addition to the devastation of Hurricane Maria, there are not enough permanent residents on the island of St. Croix to provide all the pets with island homes. Moving these dogs to the mainland gives them a better chance of adoption into a forever home.
Paws From Paradise sent these dogs and pups on their journey. ASPCA provided air transport from St. Croix and a cage-fitted trailer for the drive to SPCA Wake.
The journey that the puppies have been on so far brought them by plane from the island to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, then on to Charlotte NC — where other dogs were dropped off — and then to SPCA of Wake County’s Holding Center in Garner NC — their next-to-last stop on their journey. On December 19, 2017, at approximately 10:30am, the ASPCA’s transport truck arrived at SPCA Wake where the last pups came off the truck. Volunteers lined up, covered in protective gear, to help move the dogs into the holding center for veterinary check-ups.
Vaccinations will be given to each of the new arrivals, appropriate to its age and including treatment for any parasites or health issues. The puppies appear to be about three months old — born around the time of the storm — but those estimates may change when the pups are under anesthesia for spay/neuter. During the surgeries, veterinary personnel can get a better look at each puppies teeth to better approximate age. A few of the puppies will need to be tested for ringworm and the two adults appear to have mange, but overall the group seems healthy.Since the veterinary care on the island is almost the same as mainland US care, complete vet records arrived along with the two dogs and 16 puppies.
Once settled, these crucian canines will get turn-out time each day to get settled in their new latitude and longitude. Change is traumatic for people and for animals. Animal behaviorist Molly Stone works for SPCA Wake and will be assisting these animals after intake, when they will be provided with evaluation, and affection.
Donations are being accepted by SPCA Wake to help animals from hurricane-ravaged parts of the US including these new arrivals from St. Croix.
According to Tara Lynn, Communications Manager at SPCA of Wake County
“People wanting to help care for these animals can make donations online at SPCAWake.org/give. The SPCA of Wake County is an independent non-profit located in, Raleigh, North Carolina. We rely on donations to provide shelter, medical care, food and more for homeless pets.”
Then, each dog will reach the end of its journey when they are adopted into a new home. All of the dogs from Puerto Rico were adopted quickly, and SPCA Wake hopes the new arrivals will be adopted soon.
When will the St. Croix canines be available for adoption? In a week or less, SPCA Wake says. Upon arrival, only one of the crucian canines was “fixed” so all this week the pups and adult dog will be spayed or neutered, given their shots, microchipped, and listed available for adoption. The SPCA Wake staff are moving quickly. Some of the puppies were spayed/neutered within 24 hours or arrival and will be available for adoption tomorrow, December 21, 2017.
To adopt one of these pets, or any cat, dog, or small animal, go to the SPCA Wake adoption center at 200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh NC. Adoption fees by type of animal and age may be found here.
SPCA’s own Beth Schulman (in gray sweatshirt) took photos of each pup’s face during unloading. Watch for these sweet faces to show up in the SPCA Wake adoption gallery soon.
According to Beth, volunteerism is good this time of year. While some people are on vacation, area teens are on holiday break and volunteer with SPCA Wake at the holding center or Pet Finder Lane adoption center. Many volunteers suited up in protective gear — for their own good and the protection of other animals already in the SPCA Wake shelter — and lined up to receive the puppies Tuesday morning.
As a holiday reminder, remember that pets given as surprise gifts can end up back at a shelter as they grow older. Pets can live a decade or more and will need care and love even when they are no longer cute little puppies. Think carefully before adopting or gifting living things.
- SPCA of Wake County website and Facebook
- Saint Croix Animal Welfare Center Facebook (website currently down/unavailable)
- ASPCA website. This organization has an animal shelter in New York, and provides education and assistance to animal rescues nationwide.
- Article on Puerto Rico animal arrival in October 2017
Ed. Note: SPCA = Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.