photo: Jean Mentens

PHILIPSBURG –A lot of pets have not survived hurricane Irma on St. Maarten. Luckily, there are many dogs who have managed to be evacuated together with their owners or with animal lovers.

The four animal rescue organizations active on the island have managed to capture almost all dogs and cats that ran away, but for many others hurricane Irma proved to be fatal. The stench of rotting cadavers of dead animals, mostly buried under the rubbish, is unmistakable in certain places.

Pets with stress
“Before the storm, my family let our dogs loose,” says Terrance Rey, “and they immediately looked for a safe place to shelter – mostly under our cars – and came out after the hurricane had passed. But you can tell, even a week after the hurricane, that the dogs that survived this disaster are still showing signs of stress in their behavior.”

Dogs and cats left behind
There are tearful stories of people who had to leave their pets behind because they had to run to get evacuated. Lisa Davis-Burnett tells about her neighbor, who had to get her elderly father to safety elsewhere. She desperately begged Lisa to take care of her four dogs and four cats that had to stay behind.

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Door Jean Mentens

“How in heaven’s name am I going to do that?” Lisa wonders out load. “For the time being, I am staying with my own dog and three adopted dogs in my office. I hardly have any transportation and I have enough trouble feeding myself and my own dog with food and water.” She sighs and throws her arms up in the air.

Dogs evacuated out of animal-love
Other dogs were lucky. An aircraft belonging to Spain’s airforce evacuated Spanish citizens. A young girl from Madrid takes two transport cages with four dogs. “They are loose dogs from here that were on the run. “Now I hope I can take them on board.” she says. “We will fly first to Santo Domingo en then on to Spain.” She is doing this dog evacuation out of animal-love at her own initiative.

A couple from St. Maarten was allowed to take their teckels (dachshunds) aboard an evacuation flight with the Dutch Coastguards. Photo by Jean Mentens.