By Elaine Campbell
Exclusive to St. John Tradewinds
It’s that time of year again, —“high Season” visitors are filling the island’s camps, resorts and villas.
The Animal Care Center (ACC) of St. John is calling attention to its “Off-Island Adoption” program whereby visitors to the island can help homeless companion animals by taking home a shelter or feeding station kitty.
Flying home with a kitty or small dog from St. John is not complicated. One can borrow or purchase an airline-safe soft carrier from the ACC shelter or from Canines, Cats, and Critters (CCC) in Palm Plaza near the Westin Resort and Villas.
If anyone has a kitty visitor to their villa which they have become attached to, just invite him or her in for a welcome good meal and then take her to the nearby veterinarian at CCC for a rabies shot, and a quick health exam. After that, the vet will give an official health certificate to present to the airport U.S. Department of Agriculture agent.
It’s even easier to adopt a kitty or puppy from the shelter that’s located on the road to the library in Cruz Bay. Sally Nelson, Shelter Administrator, will help equip a visitor for the flight home. The shelter is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It might be a good idea to invest in a collar and leash or a little harness to make sure kitty doesn’t escape in the airport. If travelers don’t feel at ease taking their new pet out of the carrier so the security guard can examine the bag, simply ask to have the supervisor come and assist. At the St. Thomas airport, “Ital” is one of the TSA supervisors who is most helpful. He’ll take travelers to a special area and gently hold their new family member while running a wand inside the carrier.
Once on board the plane, stow the pet under the seat in front. Do not plan on placing that kitty or small puppy in the cargo compartment in the hold. A large dog must, of course, fly in the cargo department, but climate conditions may prevent that.
Be sure to call the airline ahead of time for a reservation for the pet because each plane limits the number of pets in each cabin. But remember, once travelers are through the security checkpoint at the airport, they and kitty or puppy are “home free.”
The ACC has many happy stories of formerly homeless island cats who have adapted perfectly to an indoor life on the mainland. Caneel, Suzie, Grey Guy, Mushi, Stripey, Sheba, Maho, Orange, Calypso, Brassy, Peachum, Pussy Willow, Tiger Lily, Brindle, Little Lady and her son Tripod are only a few island cats whose owners have sent photos and news of their beloved companions adopted from St. John.
Stop by at the shelter and visit the kittens and cats and puppies. The shelter phone number is 774-1625. Also, Dr. Elaine Campbell at (340) 693-7093 can help with information about travel on the ferry, taxis in St. Thomas, and useful supplies for traveling with pets.