Maine Air Guard unit headed to the US Virgin Islands

Maine Air Guard unit headed to the US Virgin Islands

Specialists from both the Vermont Army and Air National Guard headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands late Friday night to aid in Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

Chris Sjolund, manager of the Virginia Beach-based animal rescue Hope for Life, said the handful of dogs her organization took seemed "highly adoptable" despite the trauma they've been through.

The co-founder of Virginia Beach's Island Dog Rescue made a plan to steadily remove them from St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, flying 20 of them to America per day for one week. "So when I watched Irma build up, I called the shelters ahead of time and said, 'Hey, I'm here for you'".

Gear says that she and her team were able to completely clear out the animal shelters on the islands, which were full of pets who'd been abandoned in the chaos of Irma. She said that that her crowdfunding effort began simply as "two people having Island Dog Rescue on social media creating a swell of support", and that "people have moved heaven and earth to make this happen".

Gear said she hadn't slept more than four hours any night for nearly two weeks. I am still nervous.

Getting those dogs back to America was a bigger task than anything she'd done before, so Gear turned to the web for help.

Sali, along with committed supporters charted the plane because, as she told Piolet Online, "it had to be done." .

This past weekend Gear and a group of generous donors, like the Animal Welfare Institute, got together $112,000 to charter a plane from Miami (plus $5,000 for supplies) and they organized a group of volunteers to assist with the rescue.

Then she needed crates - plastic traveling cases for the cats and dogs - to ensure they would be transported safely. "I love them so much, and we as people have to help them". "Island dogs are like that".