Top Picks For You

How Travelers Can Help These Silent Victims of COVID

Here's how to help animals stuck in shelters abroad.

Shelters in the U.S. sit empty as “quarantine puppies” have stolen the hearts of many American families—but in different parts of the world, travel restrictions have created a backlog in the number of animals stuck in shelters abroad and unable to fly overseas for adoption. In some parts of the world, there is an influx of dogs being rescued that are in need of families as soon as possible. They’re arriving by the dozen and desperately seeking volunteers to assist in finding forever homes.

From the Caribbean to Colombia to Mexico, here’s how people can help the animals facing the diverse challenges of the pandemic.

Caribbean Coalition

Cargo flights usually save thousands of animals each year by transporting them to countries like the U.S. to be adopted, but since the start of COVID-19, these flights have not been occurring due to recent travel restrictions.

The Animal Care Center (ACC) of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands has partnered with shelters from the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico to form a coalition leading efforts to fundraise for lifesaving private cargo rescue flights for animals, which will save more than 300 animals from shelters across the Caribbean.

Continue Reading Article After Our Video

Recommended Fodor’s Video

“At the end of the day what I want everyone to take away from this and realize is that these are U.S. territories, these are U.S. heartbeats and they need our help,” said animal rescue volunteer Jessica Nicodemo, whose specialty is disaster animal relief and logistics.

Vieques Humane Society

So far, the group has raised over $70,000, which has saved hundreds of animals from euthanasia. The coalition’s current goal is to raise $125,000 which will allow for three additional transports out of these islands, as well as for the spaying and neutering of the island dogs after the third transport has been completed. Now that hurricane season is in full-force, it’s even more important to get the animals out of danger as soon as possible.

To lend a hand by donating money to future rescues and to learn more about each organization, check out the GoFundMe for this Caribbean Coalition’s relief efforts.

Dogs and Cats of Antigua

Dogs and Cats of Antigua was established as a non-profit organization in 2015, with the aim to help save the rapidly reproducing street dog population in Antigua. This non-profit provides necessary medical care for the animals and works toward finding them “forever homes.”

Antigua is a very small island with a large stray population. There is very little spay and neutering done on the island—so animals breed quickly, and have nowhere to go. Business at the organization was essentially halted due to COVID-19 as the borders worldwide closed and passenger airplanes traveling into Antigua were grounded.


The organization was left with about 75 animals waiting to travel overseas and began to raise money to build their own sanctuary on the island with the intention of housing them and attracting future island visitors interested in adopting.

“As tourism is the main economy on this island the Sanctuary is being built with that in mind. We are making it a destination spot with hiking trails around the property so tourists can take a dog for a hike,” said Joy Farrell, Founder of Dogs and Cats of Antigua.

The organization also raised money for an Antigua Puppy Airlift-Freedom Flight, where 58 pups flew out of the island nation—30 of which have already been adopted while the rest are on their way to having their applications approved.

Those interested in offering a hand can donate money to the organization online or if they’re traveling to or located in Antigua, by volunteering onsite.

The Animal Pad

The Animal Pad (TAP) has partnered with two shelters in Ensenada, Mexico, to help get dogs out of kill-shelters in Mexico and into the United States to be adopted. So far this year, the organization has rescued close to 1,000 dogs and adopted out over 800.

“We’re rescuing about 150 dogs a month and at least twice a month we have new dogs coming,” said Founder Stephanie Nisan. About 95% of the dogs rescued have been from Mexico; around 80% of those from the organization’s two partner shelters, Ellos Son La Razon, and Los Adoptables.

TAP is a volunteer and foster-based organization—all this work has all been done completely through raising money and with the help of volunteers who travel across the border weekly donating donate their time and money to fund the rescues.

“We’re completely volunteer-based. We have volunteers in Tijuana, Ensenada, and here in San Diego. We have members of our marketing team worldwide,” said Nisan. Most of TAP’s volunteer positions are administrative and can be done from anywhere in the world.

Dogs are driven up from Mexico to California in a renovated van and are quarantined in a U.S. kennel before settling into their foster homes. Fostered animals are primarily kept in the California area, close to the TAP facility which ensures any follow-up care for the dogs can be completed easily.

“For however many foster homes we have, we will rescue that many dogs. Without the community, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do here,“ said Nisan. Those interested in helping can follow their social media @theanimalpad for updates, and donate supplies using the organization’s Amazon wishlist.

Cartagena Paws

Cartagena Paws just celebrated its five-year anniversary and over that time, it has helped over 200 dogs and cats find homes abroad. Since the pandemic started, the organization has had to turn away new rescues, as the cost of caring for more dogs is expensive.

Now that international flights have resumed to Colombia from the U.S., anyone who is traveling to the country can help by becoming a flight volunteer. “The way we can get animals out is through flight volunteers. This is crucial for us. This is anyone who’s planning a trip who can take a dog with them when they return home. We handle all the vaccinations, we make sure they’re spayed and neutered, and they have a home waiting for them in the States—it’s just a matter of getting them there,” said flight volunteer recruiter Clementyne Chambers.

Those who aren’t traveling to Colombia soon can lend a hand through donating on the website, which helps dogs onsite that are in need of care, as well as assists with education for the local community on how to care for their animals.

People can also sponsor an animal from abroad online, and financially support a specific animal’s upkeep and adoption fees. Sponsors will get updates on bills and receive plenty of videos and pictures of their animal.

Furry Family Members Find Forever Homes

Between donating time, money, and supplies, there are many ways people can help to save hundreds of animals across the globe. These organizations assist by helping them find forever homes and give them the opportunity to receive the proper treatment they need to live a better life in the future.