Sunset Sail for St. Maarten’s strays

Sunset Sail for St. Maarten’s strays

On World Stray Animals Day, celebrated on Saturday, April 1, Aqua Mania Adventures will host a Sunset Sail to connect animal lovers and collect funds for animal welfare organizations on St. Maarten.

Every year, World Stray Animals Day is recognized on April 4. The day was launched in 2010 when over 100 Dutch organizations convened at the Dutch National Stray Animals Conference. The day of April 4 was selected because it is exactly six months from World Animal Day.

This year, Aqua Mania Adventures joined forces with Animal Welfare Foundation, SXM Paws and Animal Defenders to end a week-long campaign to find, fix and foster stray animals, with a World Stray Animal Day Sunset Sail on Saturday, April 1.

Based in the USA, non-profit organization 4 Leaf Rover, which hosts spay/neuter and medical clinics, finds forever homes, and provides food and basic medical supplies to improve the quality of life and chance of survival for forgotten animals, will be conducting a one-week pro bono mission to spay and neuter as many island dogs and cats as possible.

They will be operating on homeless as well as adopted dogs and cats. Three American veterinarians and several American veterinary technicians and volunteers will be constructing a temporary pop-up clinic located adjacent to St. Maarten Veterinary Clinic in Cay Hill in order to spay and neuter as many dogs and cats at the same time from Monday, March 27, to Friday, March 31. Local veterinarians on the Dutch side will also be participating and assisting in this mission.

Their goal is to spay and neuter 300 plus dogs and cats over the course of five days. Local island animal welfare and rescue groups such as SXM PAWS, St. Maarten Animal Welfare Foundation, and Animal Defenders will be assisting in this mission by offering free rewards such as collars, shampoo, and pizza to the owners of pets that will be brought in for spay and neuter surgeries. They will also conduct an operation to search, collect, and bring stray animals all over the island to 4 Leaf Rover’s pop-up clinic in Cay Hill.

With this Sunset Sail, Aqua Mania aims to support this important campaign. The net ticket proceeds, sale of T-shirts at the pre-mixer, plus the request for guests to bring a bag of dog and cat food along, will provide an awesome boost to the island’s lost and forgotten animals.

The collected funds are to be distributed to several animal welfare organisations on the Dutch side that rely totally on private funding and volunteers to help the stray animals on the island.

One of those animal welfare organisations is the St. Maarten Animal Welfare Foundation, a non-profit organization which promotes the humane treatment of animals on the island. Humane education is one of the organisation’s top priorities. Since 1992, the Animal Welfare Foundation has provided humane education materials for every Dutch side primary schoolchild and awareness activities and public service information for the public at large.

Sterilisation is the foundation’s other important pillars. Based on the philosophy that it is better to prevent reproduction than to destroy offspring, the Animal Welfare Foundation encourages the sterilization of animals. Since 1997, the organization has sponsored over 14,000 sterilizations for residents' pets via low-cost sterilization campaigns for the public, especially for residents of limited means. The Foundation’s adoption policy also mandates spay/neuter for all adopted animals.

To address existing problems within the community, the Animal Welfare Foundation has, since 1996, also operated and funded a neighbourhood outreach program whereby our volunteers respond to animal emergencies and offer free taxi of pets to local vets for residents without transportation. This Animal Ambulance team collects unwanted animals for adoption; and treats mange in the community for people unable to provide care for their pets.

“In 2023, we will continue our mission of helping residents to sterilize their pets at low or no cost, and continue our education and awareness campaign, to stop unwanted puppies and kittens from being born,” Foundation President Heather Caputo remarked in the organisation’s most recent Annual Report.

Though this is the first time a sunset sail will be dedicated to animals, Aqua Mania Adventures is all about dedicating their memorable coastal sails to a good cause. The activity business has organised very successful Pink Sunset Sails for breast cancer for several years.

“We realised the impact it [the pink sunset sails] had locally and internationally – raising funds for breast cancer. Animal welfare is an important cause on St. Maarten, considering the number of strays and dogs that need to be adopted and the challenges with spaying and neutering,” organiser Michele Korteweg said.

Before setting sail, participants will have the opportunity to mingle at the pre-mixer from 4:00pm, where the foundations will have a booth to provide information on their projects and sell shirts, and patrons can donate pet food, cuddle puppies and enjoy snacks and drinks. “We are really trying to create awareness of the foundations and the work that they do. And besides that, we want to get the whole evening started in a fun and engaging way,” Korteweg said.

After mingling, the sail participants will embark on the sunset sail at 5:15pm. Adult animal lovers pay $50 per person for a 90-minute coastal sunset sail with open bar, snacks, miles of changing scenery, and of course plenty of good karma points. Younger animal lovers are welcome, too. Children ages 5-12 pay $25 for; and those ages 0-4 can come along for free.

Participants are encouraged to bring along a sweater as it can be chilly on the water. Bags of dog and cat food are always welcome and can also be bought at the pre-mixer to donate to the animal welfare organisations. And remember to bring some spare cash to buy a T-shirt or top up the donation boxes – every dollar counts.

Book now for this first event by visiting or pass by one of Aqua Mania’s convenient locations at Divi Little Bay, Simpson Bay Resort or Hilton Vacation Club Royal Palm.

The Daily Herald

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