Ryan Moore, the manager of the Animal Care Center on St. John, has worked tirelessly over the years to help the animals of St. John. Ryan’s actions following hurricanes Irma and Maria were simply extraordinary. Ryan is such an amazing person that People Magazine took note. Here is a profile they wrote on Ryan yesterday…
Animal Rescue Hero Evacuates Family During Hurricanes, Stays to Protect Shelter Pets in U.S. Virgin Islands
BY SARYN CHORNEY • @SARYNTHUMPS
When Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm with winds gusts up to 200 miles per hour, hit the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 6, every update seemed worse than the last. Residents who’d hoped the hurricane would turn north faced facts, began collecting supplies and hunkering down. One of those families was Ryan and Tiffany Moore, their two young sons Conner and Dylan and their dog, Tug.
When the Moores ventured outside a day later, “It looked like an atomic bomb went off,” Tiffany Moore tells PEOPLE. “It was a total war zone. [We’re on a hill and] the roofs of two houses below ours were now in our yard. It was like that for a lot of houses. It was just mass destruction.”
Although the Moores didn’t lose their home, it was flooded, and the entire island was without power and water. As manager of St. John’s Animal Care Center, Ryan Moore finally was able to check on the dogs and cats at the shelter, while Tiffany went into town. She found out a private charter boat was leaving the island that afternoon, bound for Puerto Rico. The couple made a split-second decision that it was in their little boys’ best interest for Tiffany to evacuate St. John before another impending hurricane hit. Ryan, however, decided he needed to stay because of his responsibility to the shelter.
“The thing about Ryan I fell in love with from the beginning is his loyalty, passion and commitment to animals and his work,” says Tiffany. “He made that decision, I’m so proud of him that he did. Nobody knew what was coming, that Hurricane Maria would be following a week later. He wanted to be there and manage, and make sure all the dogs were ok.”
The shelter stayed fairly intact, but there was a large hole that had blown out through the back wall in the cat room. Luckily, all the cats were still safe and in their cages. There was also flooding below the shelter, and a mudslide had caused the porch to collapse on the right side of the building. Moore’s been fixing up the structure to keep the animals safe and dry, as well as taking care of the animals.
Despite obvious communication challenges, Ryan’s animal rescue efforts took off. He got in contact with an organization called IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), and began conversations with its disaster relief team. Moore worked as hard as he could to get people on the ground in St. John to assist and eventually evacuate the pets off the island. Throughout this ordeal, he’s remained optimistic that he’ll get the job done, which includes accounting for every single rescue animal already in the shelter, as well as the pets who were left behind by their families who, in many cases, had no choice in the matter.
PEOPLE spoke with Shannon Walajtys, IFAW Manager for Disaster Response, about the dire situation in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean at large. Her team had mobilized to assess the impact of Hurricane Irma to the animals of St. Thomas and St. John at the request of Moore and other local authorities who asked for aid.