Vet Sarah Weston works from Kesgrave base to save animals caught up in Hurricane Irma
PUBLISHED: 18:44 27 September 2017
A Suffolk vet who emigrated to the British Virgin Islands is coordinating an animal rescue operation in the hurricane-ravaged nation from the safety of her parents’ house in Kesgrave.
Sarah Weston, 30, and her husband George, 32, were luckily at a friend’s wedding in France when Hurricane Irma hit earlier this month and devastated the territory the couple have called home since 2015.
After helping to organise search parties for islanders who were unaccounted for, Dr Weston turned her attention to the animals which had been injured, abandoned or left without food and water as a result of the disaster.
“We started getting messages from friends who we see on a daily basis saying they were trapped with their children and the roofs had blown off their houses and there was no food or water,” she said. “It was absolutely petrifying to try and wrap your head around what could be going on.”
She added: “I received word from one of my friends who owns 12 horses and two donkeys and her entire barn no longer exists so we were very worried not only about the people but it started to become apparent there was nothing else being done to try and help solve the animal welfare issues.
“When we saw photos it became instantly apparent that what used to be rainforest has no longer got a single grain of grass on it so livestock have no food let alone the injuries sustained from the debris and flooding. I decided while my friends focused on the humanitarian support I would use my area of expertise to see what we could do to help the animals.”
The only UK-accredited vet working on the British Virgin Islands, Dr Weston has been teaming up with charities, organisations and governments to get relief teams on the ground with resources, ensure citizens are able to take their pets on a plane without documents which may have been lost in the storm, and to raise money to fund the care of hurt creatures.
Dr Weston grew up in Kesgrave and attended Heath Primary School and Kesgrave High School and Sixth Form.
After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College in London, Dr Weston landed a job at Canines, Cats and Critters in the British Virgin Islands.
The practice and the couple’s home have suffered serious damage but are still standing.