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ST CROIX — “Every dog deserves a second chance.” This is the motto of Ruff Start STX, a non-profit organization that rescues abused, injured and abandoned dogs on St. Croix. Ruff Start STX is the place where the last chance dogs are given an opportunity to begin a positive new chapter in their lives. This was the idea in mind when founder and president Katie Nielsen founded the organization three years ago.

Nielsen began rescuing animals one at a time back in 2018, focusing on elderly troubled animals or dogs with medical issues due to the difficulty in finding permanent homes for them. In 2020, she formed Ruff Start STX and became a registered 501(c)3 organization. The mission of the organization is to proactively search out the dogs who can’t search for help themselves; the critically ill, injured, abandoned dogs within the St. Croix community. Through their various programs, they focus on the ‘unadoptable’ dogs that would normally not make it in a shelter environment. Thanks to amazing volunteers and community support, Ruff Start STX can give these rescues the time and attention they need to become safe, adoptable pets.

The organization has been able to accomplish a lot in a little time with limited funding. With no kennel facilities, full-time staff or steady funding, Ruff Start STX is fueled solely through their volunteer network. Some volunteers foster anywhere between 25-30 dogs in their homes at any given time! One of their most successful community outreach programs is the Ruff Start/ West End Dog Clinic. Operated entirely by volunteers, the free clinic is held the first Saturday of each month in Frederiksted offering free consultations, free vaccines and free heart-worm tests. All services are funded by donations from residents. They host various fundraisers throughout the year to support the work of the organization. They’re having their first golf tournament on April 16, 2023 at Carambola Golf Course. If you happen to fall in love with a Crucian pup on your next St. Croix visit, Ruff Start STX makes pet adoption easy as 1-2-3! From arranging dogs to get their shots, suppling pet carriers for travel and assistance to book flights to their fur-ever homes, Ruff Start STX guides all new doggie parents through the process with expert ease. You don’t even have to be on St. Croix to adopt the newest addition in your family. These love-able pups are listed on the Ruff Start STX website and the organizations assists with the necessary logistics to get your new friend safely to the mainland United States. To learn more about Ruff Start STX, donate, learn about volunteer opportunities, and more, visit www.

Written by Anquanette Gaspard