October 10, 2017

Updates from the Field: Responding to Hurricane Maria

a dog resting near debris after the storm

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the ASPCA is on the ground in St. Croix, assessing displaced animals in need of assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the request of the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture.

Latest Update: October 9, 2017, 10:50AM

Hurricane Maria spared nothing in its path—including the largest animal shelter in St. Croix.

Per a request from FEMA, the ASPCA deployed an assessment team to the island. One of this team’s top priorities was to check on the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center. This shelter is a vital resource to the island’s homeless dogs and cats. Fortunately, more than 100 shelter animals were evacuated off the island before Maria hit.

a horse being examined by rescuers

Though these animals were spared, the shelter on which hundreds of other homeless animals depend was not. Parts of the roof were torn off and much of the space was flooded. To make matters worse, the shelter was looted several times in the days that followed. All of that took this critical community resource out of service at the most desperate time.

Upon arrival of the ASPCA’s assessment team to the shelter, the team encountered the desperation face to face. They found two dogs chained to the damaged and mangled front gates. The team jumped into immediate action.  ASPCA veterinarian and responder, Dr. Nicole Eller, went to work hydrating the dogs and making sure they were ok. Two other team members set to work to untangle the dogs and move them to safety.

a dog being rescued from debris

We also received a request for help from a concerned horse owner on the island. We learned there were numerous horses housed in a neighborhood ball field, and all had been experiencing unusual clinical signs over the week following the storm. We performed examinations on the horses, provided treatment, and gave instructions on how to keep the horses safe and comfortable. 

rescued horse with an eye injury

These were the first of many experiences that led the assessment team to recommend that an emergency animal shelter be established to care for animals large and small. This emergency shelter will allow the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center time to get back on its feet, while providing safety, medical care and nutrition to survivors.

Your life-saving support is needed now more than ever. Please consider making an urgent contribution. 100% of your donation today will go to the ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response Fund. This fund is used to support all of the ASPCA’s life-saving efforts for animals in disaster and cruelty situations.