Namaste friends. In September we support Rachel Brathen & Dennis Schoneveld’s organization, Sgt. Pepper’s Friends. Founded on the principles of love & rescue and named in honor of their dog Pepper, they seek to place homeless pets into loving homes all over the world.
1. Share with us how Sgt. Pepper’s Friends started?
With Sgt. Pepper, Rachel and Dennis’ first love. They found him in a trash can, abandoned at only a few weeks old. He had survived in the streets all alone, against all odds, but he was so weak he could barely stand up. He was covered in ticks and a very swollen belly but he was happy and feisty! They took him to the vet and he was anemic and had tick disease. It didn’t take him long to grow bigger and stronger and of course – part of the family. Heartbreakingly, last year Pepper suddenly passed away, only four years old. The foundation is dedicated to him.
2. How long has it been operating?
Rachel wanting to help a pit bull she found chained to a pole in Thailand and involving social media was the first real act of Sgt. Pepper’s Friends. Sgt. Pepper’s Friends has been an official foundation registered in Aruba since the beginning of July 2015.
3. How many people work for the foundation?
At this moment the team consists of 5 volunteers, including Rachel and Dennis. However, there are many people helping us; by fostering, transporting, donating, adopting and in many more ways!
4. Do you have a mission statement or mantra for the organization?
Every animal deserves a chance at a loving home! Our main focus, at this point, is rescuing animals in Aruba, hopefully building a shelter in the future, spreading awareness and promoting spaying and neutering. As we grow, we want to expand our foundation and rescue animals in other parts of the world as well.
5. Why is animal rescue & welfare so important to you all?
We are all huge animal lovers, our pets are our lives and we want every animal in the world to have a loving home and to be able to live a long, happy, healthy and fulfilling life. Living in Aruba we see a lot of stray animals (often they do have owners), animals being neglected, abused or dumped. It really is heartbreaking. This doesn’t only happen in Aruba, we all know that, but because the island is small it is more obvious and visible. Once you get ‘in the scene’ the amount of animals really is overwhelming and they all deserve a chance of a better life. We can’t save them all, not at this point, but that is our ultimate goal and we will do anything within our possibilities to reach that goal.
6. Are all the pets rescued from Aruba? Or from other locations?
The animals that have been adopted through Sgt. Pepper’s Friends – up until now – have all been rescued from Aruba.
7. How many animals have you rescued so far? Is it all dogs and cats? Are they mainly puppies or all ages?
We have rescued 22 dogs (Sammy, Prosper, Cupa, Lady, Poppy, Lily, Chief, Bayou, Phoenix, Shakti, Bonzai, Kimba, Ginger, Liberty & her eight puppies and 15 cats (Radjah, Charm, Legend, Kahana, Pandora, Dazzle, Marshmallow, Domino, Breeze, Blossom, Bubbles, Teeger, Aslan, River and Ivy) so far. We also had three female dogs spayed.
It is harder to find homes for adult dogs (and finding a transporter since their are only two – during the summer even just one- airlines that allow pets as cargo) and cats, but the bigger problem is that it can be quite difficult to socialize them as well, that’s why our emphasis is on rescuing puppies and kittens.
8. Have they all been adopted to the US? Or all over the world?
They have been adopted to the U.S. mainly, two have been adopted in Aruba and some are still looking for their forever loving homes.
9. How much does it cost to care for an Aruban rescue dog or cat?
It depends on the dog/cat, it’s general health, age etc.
They all need several vet checks, usually more then one blood test, often antibiotics, deworming, preventive treatment with panacur and baycox, vaccination(s), rabies shot (depending on their age, Aruba is Rabies free), spay and neuter when old enough, heartworm test for adult dogs and treatment if necessary, FeLV and FIV test for adult cats etc.
The puppies with mange needed weekly visits for six weeks, Bayou got parvo and needed to go in quarantine at the veterinarian, of course also the food, transportation fee, supplies and carriers (luckily we’re getting more and more donated, which really helps), so it is almost impossible to give an estimate. It is a lot though. 😉
10. How many dogs and cats are in your care now?
11 dogs and 9 cats.
11. I have fostered litters of puppies in the past and I know how challenging it is. You feel like a new parent – sleep deprived, up at all hours to feed + care. It is a lot of work! What motivates you and keeps you positive and focused?
The love you get in return. They all show it to you one way or another. Seeing them grow bigger, stronger and healthier is a such an amazing and fulfilling process. The cherry on top is receiving pictures and emails from families that adopted from us. Knowing that you’ve changed the life for this animal, is the best feeling there is!
12. What is the adoption process like? What is the adoption cost?
We ask people to fill out an application form. We try to find the right fit for each individual animal. After reaching our decision we ask the adopter to transfer the first part of the adoption fee (for a dog the adoption fee is $250 and for a cat $200) as a way to guarantee that they are going through with the adoption. Then we start looking for a transporter, someone traveling from Aruba to an airport where the adopter is willing to drive to. During the adoption process we keep in touch with the adopters by email, telephone and/or skype/FaceTime. After finding a transporter, the second part of the adoption fee is paid.
The week before traveling we go to the vet for the last check-up and the health certificate. We meet the transporter at the airport, with all the necessary paperwork, transportation necessities, vet history and most importantly the animal going to it’s new home. We go with them to the check-in and walk with them until the point we aren’t allowed anymore. The adopters will be waiting for their dog or cat at the airport of destination.
13. Tell us the truth – Rachel is keeping the 5 legged puppy isn’t she?
Time will tell. 😉
14. What is coming up next for Sgt. Pepper’s Friends? What initiatives are you working on?
Our website is under construction and will be up and running soon. It is going to be beautiful and interactive. There will be more, but that will be a surprise!! We are also going to support the Animal Relief Foundation Aruba with their spay and neuter campaign in May of 2016.
15. What is the biggest challenge your organization faces?
Knowing that we won’t be able to rescue every single animal in need. We really want to, but we have to be realistic and be patient. Our foundation is growing by the day and there is no telling where we will be by this time next year!
16. What are 3 things people can do if they wanted to help right away?
– Follow us on Instagram @sgtpeppersfriends and Facebook (Sgt Pepper’s Friends) and invite family and friends to do the same.
– Donate through PayPal: [email protected] or donate supplies from our Amazon Wishlist. Another possibility is gathering supplies or donations in different ways (a few people organized donation based yoga classes for example!).
– Come to Aruba, enjoy your vacation on this beautiful island and adopt, transport or bring supplies!