Not only does Rachel Brathen, also known as @yoga_girl, have over two million Instagram followers, but she also founded her own animal rescue project! The group is called Sgt. Pepper’s Friends, named after the first stray beach dog she found and nursed to health in Aruba. Saving Sgt. Pepper inspired Brathen and her husband Dennis Schoneveld, to rescue additional homeless animals and her activities eventually evolved from a personal effort into a full-fledged operation that has recently acquired a property that will be their official rescue center.
Since it is difficult to find foster homes for adult dogs and cats, their new location will have plenty of space for animals, a special area for mother dogs and their puppies, training space, as well as accommodations for volunteers. They are also planning on welcoming visitors and hopefully school kids too!
Sgt. Pepper’s Friends have already helped more than 600 stray cats and dogs find families locally in Aruba, as well as the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The rescue team works with volunteers (including the woman pictured above), foster families, and kind donors to provide care for the animals found in poor health and transport them to new homes. Unleashed caught up with the foundation’s manager Dayenne Holwerda-Munk, who teamed up with Rachel and Dennis in 2015, to explain all the different ways people can help the organization!
5 Ways To Help Sgt. Pepper’s Friends
As a non-profit organization, they rely heavily on financial support for the veterinary care of the animals they save. They have a Paypal account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and an Amazon wish-list (although they do need the PDF invoice and tracking number for customs).
They welcome all supplies needed for their rescue dogs and cats. If you live in Aruba or plan to visit the island, the supplies can be bought locally and given directly! They also welcome ideas people may have regarding organizing events to gather supplies or donations for the rescue (ex: yoga class, charity walk, fundraiser).
Getting rescues to their new homes in other countries is a challenge for the organization. They are always searching for people traveling from Aruba who are willing to take one of their furry rescues to a new family. They make this process as easy as possible by arranging everything; providing the carrier or crate, necessary paperwork, paying the airline fee, and meeting at the airport with the traveling companion. The adoptive family will be waiting at the destination.
Aruba locals can make a huge impact by volunteering their time to help the animals. The volunteers help with rescuing the animals, taking them to the vet, visiting foster families, providing supplies, fostering rescues, and seeing the rescues off at the airport, etc. Once their proposed facility opens at the new location, they will have opportunities for people vacationing who want to get involved to stop by and help walk the dogs!
One of the most rewarding ways someone can support the rescue mission is by adopting from the rescue! Adoption fees are $250 for dogs and $200 for cats, which includes all the veterinary care up until travel, microchipping, and the flight to the U.S. or Canada. Aruba is rabies-free, so there is no quarantine period after travel.
Dayenne explained that in addition to saving animals, Sgt. Pepper’s Friends hopes to “contribute to more awareness on the island regarding the care for animals and promote spaying and neutering.” If you live in Aruba and are interested in becoming a volunteer, or if you are traveling to Aruba and would like to help with supplies or transports you can email email@example.com.
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