Vijay Bissoondutt has overseen the animal shelter in Johnsons Ghut since 2013, and he has worked there since 1995. (Photo: PROVIDED)

Virgin Islands animal shelter manager Vijay Bissoondutt has received an honourary Member of the British Empire award from the Queen for his contributions to animal welfare in the territory, the Governor’s Group announced June 1.

Mr. Bissoondutt joined the Humane Society of the BVI at the age of 16 in 1995, working to help support then-shelter manager Tessa Gunter. After Ms. Gunter’s death in 2013, he took over the position.

The non-profit animal shelter consistently operates at maximum capacity and relies on fundraising events through the year in order to function.

The Johnsons Ghut facility accommodates a variety of animals that often arrive unwanted, abandoned and mistreated.

“In a profession where you see a high turnover of shelter workers due to compassion fatigue, Vijay’s 27 years of outstanding service to the territory’s abandoned and abused animals is testament to his unwavering dedication,” Governor John Rankin said. “Vijay works tirelessly for the unwanted animals and is frequently the first person people call to rescue an animal or try to save their own.”


Mr. Bissoondutt also educates the community about the importance of animal welfare, including mentoring students from local schools who volunteer at the shelter as community service.

“Running an animal shelter is a selfless and, at times, a heartbreaking job,” Mr. Rankin said. “This award rightfully recognises his outstanding achievements and unparalleled service to the Virgin Islands. It also helps shine a much-needed spotlight on the importance of animal welfare in the territory.”

Mr. Bissoondutt said he feels honoured to receive the award.

“Working with animals in the BVI is extremely challenging but very rewarding all at the same time,” he said. “I didn’t get here myself, though, and I would like to recognise the two other workers at the Humane Society, as well as all our wonderful volunteers and the wider community who rally together to help support and save the lives of so many animals in the Virgin Islands.”

The honours

The Queen’s Honours are awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements.

MBE awards are granted based on achievements or service that is outstanding in its field, that has delivered sustained and real impact, and that stands out as an example to others.

Honorary awards are conferred on foreign nationals.