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28 September 2017, 12:14 | Bernice Figueroa
Irma tore the roof off the Arturo Watlington Sr. Post Office in Frenchtown
The pets are now being cared for on a Virginia farm.
Gear co-owns Island Dog Rescue, a nonprofit organisation that specialises in saving dogs from the U.S. Virgin Islands. But for her, this is personal. USVI public water systems have been significantly impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma and subsequent flooding, including by a loss of electrical power, and are not yet fully able to provide adequately treated water to meet the needs of those affected areas.
Getting those dogs back to America was a bigger task than anything she'd done before, so Gear turned to the web for help. "So when I watched Irma build up, I called the shelters ahead of time and said 'hey I'm here for you'".
According to Gear, the animals she helped rescue have been faring well since leaving the storm-battered islands. They landed at Norfolk International Airport around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
"They all seem happy", she said.
The dogs have been in cages since the storm hit - only being taken out for walks.
Paws for breath: These dogs and many more are now safely in the U.S. after Gear, donors and volunteers raised $117,000 to rescue them.
"It has to be extremely traumatic for them", says Rutherford.
"Our relocation teams will identify shelters across the country that are in the position to help find these animals homes, and our teams will start moving them to their new destinations just as quickly as we possibly can". "They just need a home".
Most of the volunteers were strangers to Gear.
The animals were brought to Sali's ranch, where they eagerly wagged their tails and gave kisses to volunteers.
"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'. Local rescue groups have been picking up the animals and transporting them to places like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and the greater Boston area. Many of them are headed to shelters and rescues here in the states, and some have already been adopted.
Almost 50 dogs had been rescued by state authorities in Florida before Irma even hit.
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