From what I have been told, the attitude towards animals by some locals on St. Croix is very different from what we experience in Dallas. Animals are not treated as family members. Dogs are often tied up in yards for “protection”, and cats are allowed to freely roam having litter after litter of kittens. There was also a thread on the VI Moving Center a while back about two starving horses that were in a lot just off a public street. Apparently, people were afraid to report the neglect for fear of retaliation. The horses were eventually rescued although one of them did not survive.
I would like to see St. Croix become more like the States in terms of protecting animals. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Dallas is a utopia for animals. The reports of animal cruelty here are atrocious, but more people are becoming outraged by these reports and are effecting change.
In recent years, the Virgin Islands passed a bill making cruelty to animals a felony offense. Unfortunately, this bill took years to get passed and was vetoed twice by the former governor. This long fight speaks volumes about the attitude towards animals on the islands, but this law is definitely a step in the right direction.
Other positive steps on St. Croix are the efforts to educate children and the community about caring for animals. The St Croix Animal Welfare Center has two programs focused on this goal, the Adopt a Teacher program and Humane Education program. The idea behind these programs is to get children interested in caring for animals and making sure that they are properly treated. Hopefully, the children pass these ideas onto their families and neighbors and fewer animals are mistreated.
It would be wonderful if St. Croix could have a no-kill shelter like Operation Kindness, but sadly, the island is too small to currently accommodate the over-population of animals. According to the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center’s website, it is the “only organization on island dedicated to the humane treatment of the island’s abused and abandoned animals.” Since the Center is the only facility on island, it is very important for residents and visitors to support its programs.
One way that we have started to support St. Croix’s animal rescue efforts is by donating to Pets from Paradise. Their website is temporarily not functioning, but this link explains the idea behind the program. Basically, travelers to St. Croix can fly an animal back home with them to be adopted at a “sister shelter” in the states. This way the animals find a good home, and the population of animals on island is humanely reduced. Regrettably, Dallas does not have a sister shelter, but this sounded like such an incredible program that I still wanted to support it in some way. On our last trip down to St. Croix, I brought a pet carrier filled with animal toys, treats, and food. The carrier was counted as a checked bag so it didn’t cost me anything to bring it down with me. Then we took the items to the Pets from Paradise location. It made me so sad to see all of the sweet faces at the shelter, but I hope that these items made their lives more comfortable.