For more than 250 animals and hundreds of residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kenny Chesney is a hero. In the weeks since the islands were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the 49-year old has worked tirelessly to bring relief to the people he has called neighbors for the last 17 years.
For most of the 17 years that Chesney has had a home in St. John, one of his closest companions has been his canine, Cookie. Chesney wasn’t at his island home when it was hit by Irma, but a dear friend took care of Cookie during the storm.
“A friend of mine — we call him Low-Key Bob — took care of Cookie while I was gone,” Chesney says. “He brought her to Tennessee but then a week later she passed in my assistant Jill Trunnell’s arms. So what we did after that has been kind of in Cookie’s honor.”
Following Cookie’s death and the loss of his beloved island retreat, Chesney created a foundation called Love for Love City to help provide much needed relief to hurricane victims.
“We did all we could to try for the people who were struggling there,” he recalls. “We flew generators and coolers down there. You bring them to these people who have been without power for two months and they’re literally crying. They appreciate anything you can do because they need it so badly.”
As Chesney and his team worked, his assistant, Jill, noticed that a huge need had been overlooked.
“She said to me, ‘What about the animals who have been left behind?’ I said, ‘You’re right. We’ve got to help them too.’
“Once we got past the anxiety of getting water to people and taking care of their basic needs, Jill contacted Big Dog Ranch in Florida and Island Dog Rescue in St. John, St. Thomas and Vieques in Puerto Rico,” Chesney continues. “Next thing you know, we’ve got three or four planes going down there to get these animals healthy and safe.”