Have you ever seen those paw shaped bumper stickers that say, “Who Rescued Who?” If you’re someone who has ever rescued an animal, you understand the feeling. There’s nothing that’s quite like the love and appreciation you get from rescuing an animal and bringing them home, sometimes going above and beyond what you ever thought you would be capable of doing.
Meeting Your Soon to Be Best Friend On Vacation
When Christopher Grohman, cofounder and CEO of Locals In Motion (the company behind Jersey Shore InMotion, Central Jersey InMotion and North Jersey InMotion) traveled to Tortola BVIs this year for a week-long vacation, he expected the usual – sun, sand, and some delicious food and drink at Myett’s Cane Garden Bay – not an unexpected friendship. From the first day that he stepped onto the beautiful white sands of Cane Garden Bay’s beach, he noticed two friendly dogs that, day after day, would hang out under their beach chairs. They quickly became part of the gang and became known as Shipwreck and the other Sandy. However, as the flight home loomed on the horizon, it wasn’t just the Caribbean sunsets that they would be missing.
“These two dogs became a part of our family, even if it was just for a week,” said Grohman. “As a dog lover with a few of my own, I wanted to make sure they had a home and some care.”
On their last day there, they noticed that the one dog was missing, and worried, Chris asked around. Turns out, Sandy had been adopted by Christian Horner of Carribean Dog Organization (KODA Rescue) who has made it his mission to help find good homes for stray dogs in the Caribbean, a place where the sun is hot, the scraps are few, and care is almost nonexistent. (Sandy – now known as Cane – is now resting comfortably on Horner’s couch in Canada).
KODA Rescue… to the Rescue!
“I’ve been traveling for years to the Caribbean and each time I visit a different island, I’m witness to the sad stray dog situation,” says Horner of the KODA Rescue. “The majority of times these dogs are neglected, abused, not properly fed or watered and suffer all kinds of skin and physical conditions. The sadness I feel in my heart gets more intense each time.”
After resolving to make a difference, Horner began KODA Rescue, immediately forming relationships with local authorities, humane society agencies, and other dog lovers to help fix dire situations immediately as well as work towards an ultimate solution. He now helps fund local animal shelters and organizations in an effort to provide continual care for “these beautiful animals who are completely left on their own.” (Unlike the ASPCA in the United States, the British Virgin Islands consists of one shelter – the BVI Humane Society -, run by one man – Vijay -, in a building that’s filled with dogs, chickens, rabbits, and other animals looking for shelter.)
Since beginning KODA Rescue, Horner has contributed $5,000 of his own funds to help Caribbean dogs and has used Big Angry’s Road Kitchen (BARK), his mobile food kitchen, to help spread the word (5% of BARK’s sales are being donated to KODA Rescue). As his journey begins, he’s set his sites on rescuing three dogs… see where we’re going here? Even though Horner is hoping to bring as many beach dogs from the sandy shores of the Caribbean to Canada, turns out one little guy was destined to become a resident of New Jersey.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about this guy,” said Grohman. “So I immediately started to figure out how I could get Shipwreck home.”
Grohman found himself working with Horner to not only get Shipwreck off the beach, but to make him a “furever” member of his family at the Jersey Shore. Horner got Shipwreck to the vet, paid for his vet bills for a mild case of tick fever and began helping Grohman navigate the ins and outs of bringing Shipwreck home to the United States.
KODA Rescue Turns Happy Endings Into New Beginnings
On June 21nd, just after a month away, Grohman began his rescue mission. This time it wasn’t a vacation. It was non-stop flying, ferries, taxis and a short one-night stay at the rescue friendly Tamarind Club. After a whirlwind 36 hours, Grohman and Shipwreck landed at JFK and began the last leg of their trip over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Staten Island, and the Garden State Parkway, until getting off at Exit 105.
“From the moment we walked in the door it was a welcoming party,” said Grohman who’s daughters were bursting with excitement. “He immediately recognized my wife and then went on to meet all three of his dog brothers.”
Now that Shipwreck is an official Jersey Shore resident, he has since spent his time lounging by the pool, getting lots of belly rubs, and enjoying modern amenities like air conditioning. As a coming home present, he received the exclusive “Shipwreck Treatment” at Golden Paws Pet Boutique in Oceanport where he was shampooed and had his nails clipped all for free )this treatment is especially reserved for those who bring their rescue in for their first visit.)
“I would do nothing differently. These rescue animals, especially the friendly beach strays have such a great personality,” said Grohman. “Unfortunately, I learned that their beach life is not all that great. Most of them live very short and hard lives. I still cannot believe Shipwreck made it all the way here to our home. As he settled in, he just seems happier and happier every day.”
Fortunately, Shipwreck found a home, as did Cane (aka Sandy), but as animal lovers are well aware, there are many more dogs out there that are hoping to find their place in a loving home too (and after Hurricane Irma and Maria, these situations have become dire). Horner of KODA Rescue is looking to turn those dreams into a reality, for both the Caribbean dogs and for families looking to expand.
“It’s been a busy summer and working with Cane in his new home has been amazing,” said Horner. “I’m working on building a network of potential foster parents for rescue dogs that need home. To succeed and be considered legitimate as a rescue, I’ve been working hard on developing strong relationships with local shelters and agencies.”
To learn more about KODA Rescue and how you can help visit their Facebook page @KODA, Instagram page @Kodabvi and their GoFundMe page. Unfortunately, we can’t all do what Chris did for Shipwreck, but we can help fund countless other happy endings.
UPDATE: Since this article was originally written, the islands of the Carribean and Puerto Rico have been devastated by back to back historic Hurricanes. The gracious hosts,volunteers and their families that helped Christian and Chris rescue their dogs are now faced with the loss of their homes, businesses and belongings. Any of the links below will bring you to pages set by folks who made this rescue possible. We know every little bit helps and we hope that the Jersey Shore can help contribute to their rebuilding. We can only hope to restore some normalcy to their lives and thank them for the help they lent us during our dog rescues.