Hunky firefighters and adorable pets: what more do we really need in a calendar? The classic firefighter calendar idea for fundraising is the newest project of Animal Defenders St. Maarten (ADS) – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that cares for St Maarten’s stray and neglected dogs and cats, supported entirely by donations and some 30+ active volunteers.


With the ever-persistent problem of stray and neglected dogs and cats on the island, including pets that are dumped when owners can’t or won’t take care of them anymore, ADS has been trying to find new ways of fundraising.

The problem has of course grown worse, following the major hurricanes of 2017, both in terms of some pet owners becoming less able to care for animals, and businesses and the community being less able to donate.

Donations go toward spaying/neutering, vaccinations, buying food for around 300 dogs and 200 cats, and paying emergency vet bills for injured or sick animals.

Just two weeks ago, however, the NGO announced via social media that it would, for the meantime, not be able to afford any more vet bills as it had been spending extra on emergencies and injuries since the hurricanes – in addition to the essentials.

New, fun approaches are being implemented to draw the community closer to our animal friends – in collaboration with a range of partners, such as St. Maarten Vegans, which will be hosting a pop-up dinner this upcoming Tuesday, November 5, at Wasabi Charlie; or Joga in Cole Bay, which will host a Puppy Pilates class today, where participants can practice Pilates amongst roaming, adoptable puppies.

ADS volunteer Jackie Sattler van Zand thought the calendar would be a great idea, and asked her husband Nico van Zand about it – The Fire Department’s Fire Suppression Section Head.

Add the support of the firefighters, animal-foster parents, photographer Daniel Norwood (who has experience working with animals) and businesses such as Simpson Bay Pharmacy, which will donate towards the printing cost, and ADS is on its way to producing its first ever Doggy & Firefighter calendar for 2020.

ADS is ever grateful to the firefighters for making the endeavour possible – showing that “real men care for animals” – and for helping both people and animals in the line of duty.

More than 15 animals were part of the photoshoot last Saturday, and all were well behaved in what turned out to be a fun and productive day, says Van Zand. “Older dogs were also included,” she added; “it wasn’t just the puppies and kittens.”

The calendars are expected to be ready from the first week of December, and would make cute Christmas gifts for animal lovers. They will be on sale for $20 at veterinary clinics, BioPetz, Sweet & Turf, Simpson Bay Pharmacy, and other stores, as well as via the NGO’s Facebook page.

To keep up to date with the work of ADS, fundraisers, adoption possibilities, donation information, and to enquire about volunteering, follow Animal Defenders St. Maarten on Facebook.