Overcrowded animal shelters in the US Virgin Islands are sending hundreds of dogs and cats to the continental US

  • Hundreds of dogs and cats are being flown from the US Virgin Islands to the continental US, where pet adoptions are surging.
  • The pandemic brought tourism to a standstill on the islands, leaving many island residents jobless and unable to keep their animals.
  • But local shelters are on a mission to organize flights to the mainland for the pets, where eager foster parents are waiting to take them in.
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Hundreds of dogs and cats have been cooped up at shelters in the US Virgin Islands for months. 

But now shelter officials are on a mission to raise enough funds to organize private cargo flights that can transport animals to the US, instead of euthanizing them. 

Among them is Mr. Brown, a 9-year-old bulldog mix who, we're told, loves kisses — and female dogs. Mr. Brown has been living at the Animal Care Center of St. John for over a year.

He doesn't know it, but he's all set to take a trip from St. John to St. Louis, Missouri. 

Mr. Brown's final destination was a shelter in St. Louis. After 48 hours, he arrived with 30 other animals to Stray Rescue of St. Louis, where he was greeted by Natalie Thomson, the shelter's director of marketing.

"They were on a boat and planes and buses all to get here. And so Mr. Brown went through all of that to get a second chance," Thomson said. 

Unlike in the US Virgin Islands, the rate of adoptions has soared on the mainland since the pandemic began. 

"We were receiving so many applications for adoption or fostering because people were working from home and had the time to step up. So that was really incredible to see just thousands of adoption and foster applications coming in," Thomson said.

One of them was Emily Lichtenstein, who is Mr. Brown's new foster parent. She said she had always wanted a dog, and the pandemic has given her a chance to help through fostering. 

"I was home alone working from home and I lived by myself," she said. "I was just getting tired of just, you wake up, you go to your computer at your table, and then you go home and go to a different room that's basically in the same house. So I wanted something else."

And now she has Mr. Brown to foster until he finds his forever home. 

"He's been cooped up a pretty long time, so we'll probably go for a little walk," she said. "Lots of cuddles, lots of snuggles, lots of treats."

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