Sunset, sailing and helping strays

Sunset, sailing and helping strays

April 1 @ Aquamania’s Sunset Sail

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.

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 sell shirts and provide information on their projects. Patrons can donate pet food, cuddle puppies and enjoy snacks and drinks.

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 and those ages 0-4 can come along for free.

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 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 with the goal of spaying and neutering 300+ dogs and cats in five days.

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 organisations is SXM Paws, a non-profit organisation which houses abandoned pets and tries to rehome them on-island and abroad.

SXM Paws operates the foundation as a full circle rescue, with the only facility on the island to rescue and house hundreds of dogs per year. SXM Paws facilitates 250+ adoptions abroad per year for the stray animals. They also provide local medical care within the community, vaccination, sterilizations, monthly preventative care, which is crucial for the health of the animals (dogs/cats) within the community.

The no-kill rescue facility is more overrun than ever, and continues to face difficulties in rehoming animals abroad due to ever-increasing restrictions connected to air travel. These restrictions put more pressure on travelling pet owners and organisations like SXM Paws.

Since COVID, when certain travel bans came into place, we have been fighting a very challenging battle with facilitating travel mainly to the US,” President Diana Boyd says. Sterilization is the only way the desperate overpopulation of unwanted dogs and cats on the island can be curbed. “Sterilization is crucial for dogs and cats on the island. As a rescue, we are faced with an extraordinary number of unwanted animals. Sterilizing also has key health benefits for our animals.”

SXM Paws collaborated with the other Dutch side rescues to try and bring awareness to the local community on the importance of sterilization. “Although we have three main rescue foundations on the Dutch side, with slightly different focuses, we are all doing this for our love of the animals. We are very happy to partner for the success of this incredible fundraiser,” says Boyd about collaborating with Animal Welfare and Animal Defenders.

According to long-time volunteer Kathy Blasberg, the facility is more of “a doggie country club”. SXM Paws does not keep dogs in kennels during the day, but rather lets them run around, play, explore, and interact with both humans and animals in order to socialize them for their forever homes.

Craving some puppy loving? You can come by SXM Paws’ adoption centre in Cay Hill to volunteer or meet the lovely rescue dogs. There is a bench for visitors who just want to cuddle with the dogs present. Who knows, you might fall in love with one of the island dogs. These mixed breed dogs are very resilient, loving and adapt very well in any home or country.

Of course, you are also more than welcome to volunteer some of your time to the organization. At SXM Paws, there is always plenty to do, including cleaning, feeding, socializing, and leash training. Animal lovers can also take dogs for a walk nearby or even take them on a hike or to the beach!

If you are flying to the United States, Canada or Europe soon, you can help escort a coconut retriever to their forever family. SXM Paws will take care of everything – all you have to do is show up at the airport and accompany the dog on its way home.

SXM Paws will be present at the pre-mixer to represent and kick off a fabulous sunset cruise. “We will bring along information regarding our adoption process, goodies for sale such as T-shirts.    Looking forward to a fun filled day,” Boyd concludes.

Can’t make it to the Sunset Sail or just want to help Aqua Mania help Animal Welfare Foundation, SXM Paws and Animal Defenders? You can donate old towels, food, treats, toys, food storage bins and cleaning supplies (drop-off at Aqua Mania Adventures or at any one of the foundations); volunteer; or foster an animal – you won’t regret it!

Book now for this fun event and good cause 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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