Freedom Flight, Dominica, 15th of Feb. 2023

Thanks to months of preparations and volunteering of all at St Nicholas Animal Rescue and St. Nicholas University, along with hard work of  Dr. Shelley Jensen, Wings of Rescue – Ric and pilots Angela & Kale, HSTB – Rescue’s partners on American side – and all dedicated donors and supporters, forty Dominica animals just flew to their new homes in Florida! A specialized aircraft Wings of Rescue took off, fully loaded with dogs and some cats too.

Wings of Rescue plane being loaded with crates by SNU students.

Dominica, being a small country, has limited opportunities for pet adoptions, specially for older, handicapped and abused animals . That in turn causes St Nicholas Shelter to be filled over its capacity,  hampering further rescue operations. This freedom flight allows St Nicholas Animal Rescue to continue rescuing sick and injured stray dogs/cats from the streets of Dominica which in turn not only ends animal cruelty and suffering but also improves the Greater Roseau image for locals and tourists alike in the “Nature Island”. It also helps Dominica by better controlling diseases that can be spread by the stray animal population. St Nicholas University: School of Veterinary Medicine stud3ents are involved daily in activities helping run the Rescue and Shelter.

On this occasion St Nicholas University students and volunteers spent days preparing all the dogs (washing them, de-worming, assisting with vaccinations and tests, and so on) as well as preparing the official documents, and arrived at the airport on several trucks fully loaded with animals in crates. Among those awaiting them were notable guests and supporters – keen animal lovers. Mr Benoit Bardouille, CEO of DASPA had strong words of endorsement for this initiative, while present on behalf of Ministry of Agriculture acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Lennox St.Amie congratulated Dr. Golnaz Naderkhani – founder of the Rescue and University’s President – on organizing this project and navigating it to this smooth ending, “a happy occasion” – as he said. Mr Gregor Nassief a long-time supporter and repeat donor also shared enthusiastic words for a “great service to the island” in conversation with Dr. Rita Nassief-Zreik – a devoted volunteer and director at the Rescue.

With the last crate loaded, with loud cheers of volunteers and students, pilots were presented with commemorative gifts, also taking with them a package of forty small Dominica flags – a reminder of animals’ homeland to be given to each adopting person in USA.

It has to be said that this impressive and perfectly conducted project was possible through a massive engagement of local supporters – both corporate and private, donations, drivers volunteering their trucks and time, supportive officials in offices and at the airport, and many other animal lovers from Dominica and Abroad. It was heart-warming to see such coordinated effort to help animals from Dominica.

Although this is a time to celebrate a joyous event, it is also an opportunity to remind our community about the plight of stray animals and to raise awareness about animal welfare and make a stand against animal cruelty and abuse. Many of the dogs departing today came to the rescue in terrible condition, much of their injuries and sufferings cause by people either intentionally or through severe neglect.

As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated”.

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