By Latrishka Thomas
A pup now renamed ‘Gucci Kodi Rimkey’ and 57 other dogs from Antigua are finding new families more than 2,000 miles away.
Last Friday, the dogs and puppies which had been rescued from the island’s streets boarded a cargo jet chartered by the Dogs and Cats of Antigua (DACOA) group to their “furever” homes in Canada.
One of the adopters, Colin Rimkey, from Orillia in Ontario, told Observer that he is extremely pleased with his decision.
“She is a wonderful, lovable cutie who loves to catch bugs, cuddle, and play with her toys,” he said.
Rimkey remarked that the only challenge is getting mixed breed Gucci Kodi to relieve herself outside.
“Everything is going great; just teaching her how to pee outside is a challenge. I’m starting to read more up on all of this by watching YouTube,” he said.
The 27-year-old, who is not a first-time dog owner, explained that he chose to adopt a dog “because it’s nice to have a companion and I am at the point in my life where I am able to watch a dog without leaving the house much, or more than a few hours”.
He said it was his sister who joined the DACOA group on Facebook.
Caribbean island dogs like Gucci are often dubbed ‘potcakes’.
“They are named after a street food where cakes are cooked in cast-iron pots and the locals would feed the stray dogs these cakes,” Rimkey said.
“Because of how many breeds there are on the island these dogs are mixed breeds. My puppy is believed to be a mix of a few dogs: Rhodesian ridgeback, golden lab and corgi,” he detailed.
DACOA is a non-profit group that relocates rescue dogs overseas into homes in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
In a press release, the organisation explained that the closing of the twin islands’ borders due to Covid-19 left them overrun with animals, many of which were tiny puppies when they were first picked up.
The situation also crippled the group’s ability to help the “many other stray dogs starving and sick on the island’s streets, beaches, and bushes,” the release stated.
The high cost to charter a private plane was a deterrent but then help came in an unexpected form.
Giovanna Pari, a regular visitor to Antigua and an Antiguan dog owner herself, reached out to DACOA. She spearheaded the ‘Antiguan Puppy Airlift– Freedom Flight’ initiative with a personal donation of $5,000 Canadian dollars and started a GoFundMe page for the group.
“Shortly after, two more Canadian donors and an Antiguan resident made generous pledges to help. The balance of the money came from adopters, rescue groups, fosters, GoFundMe donations, and DACOA,” the missive disclosed.
DACOA spokesperson Brittany Barnes, said, “This is epic and we are thrilled. It is the first time Antigua has engaged in such a massive undertaking for dogs…The dogs arrived in Toronto and were greeted by screams of delight as soon as the cargo door opened. Some adopters had driven up to 17 hours to [Toronto] airport to pick up their new furry family members.”
Cindy Bennett, one of the Canadian organisers, said, “We are genuinely impressed with these dogs’ health, and so was the vet.”