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VI animal rights activist Theresia ‘Tessa’ Gunter has died!

- She has the distinction of being the first female race horse Jockey in the Virgin Islands
Theresia ‘Tessa’ Gunter, animal rights activist and former jockey, has passed away at the age of 63 years. Photo: provided
Two of the puppies at the animal shelter. Photo: VINO/File
Two of the puppies at the animal shelter. Photo: VINO/File
Kittens up for adoption at the animal shelter. Photo: VINO/File
Kittens up for adoption at the animal shelter. Photo: VINO/File
A section of the BVI Humane Society compound that houses rabbits and iguanas among other animals. Photo:VINO/File
A section of the BVI Humane Society compound that houses rabbits and iguanas among other animals. Photo:VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The Virgin Islands best known animal rights activist, Theresia Gunter aka Tessa, has passed away. She died at her home in Josiah's Bay on the main Island of Tortola on April 20, 2013 after a brief illness.

She was 63 years of age and came to the Virgin Islands around 1974. Ms Gunter is survived by one daughter Jorsclyn.

With her keen love for animals and the number of stray and abandoned animals in the Virgin Islands at the time, she founded The Humane Society of the BVI.

From 1975 until her death she advocated for the care and protection of animals and continued to lobby successive governments for land to carry on her work in the protection and care of animals.

Swedish-born Tessa was raised on a large farm where she grew up with an appreciation for the value of all creatures. Her natural empathy with the animals led her to champion a way to offer God’s creatures protection, care and shelter.

Tessa’s first passion is horses and the sport of riding. She was involved with the care of lame horses put out to pasture as well as imported race horses, which had proven to be ‘damaged goods’ and which were left to their own devices.

Tessa was the first female jockey to ride in the Virgin Islands and was a presence on what was referred to as the old track- the former Little ‘A’ Race track now renamed Ellis Thomas Downs.

She rode and won many races with some of the best horses at the time like 'Sagge' and 'Mando' belonging to horse race owner Jim Smith of West End, Tortola.

She has left a fully operational Animal Shelter located in Johnson's Ghut, an area of the Purcell Estate. Not only is the shelter a place for stray or abandoned animals but pet owners can leave their favorite pets there while on vacation.

The Animal Shelter also offers other services such as the spade and vaccination of animals.

Ms Gunter's body will be cremated and a public memorial date is to be announced, according to a family spokeswoman

The Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Virgin Islands News Online express our sympathy to the family of the deceased.

25 Responses to “VI animal rights activist Theresia ‘Tessa’ Gunter has died!”

  • Oh No (23/04/2013, 21:23) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
    Very sad news. Condolences goes to her daughter, family members and friends
    • Turtle Dove (24/04/2013, 02:32) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
      Only God knows why........we'll keep this family in our prayers.

  • rip (23/04/2013, 21:26) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wow, so sad. My prayers are with the family for strength and peace at this time.
    • Dragon (24/04/2013, 02:38) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
      Very sad! But this has provided the opportunity for us to look intently at our relationship with Jehovah
  • . (23/04/2013, 22:21) Like (34) Dislike (0) Reply
    first female jockey in the land,,,name the animal shelter in her honour
  • ann (23/04/2013, 22:35) Like (31) Dislike (0) Reply
    vino you just does have everything on this site. I saw this lady in january when my brother and I went to get a puppy...what a loss for the shelter..RIP
  • ABBEY FAMILY JOSIAHS BAY (23/04/2013, 23:46) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    • door (24/04/2013, 02:39) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      Condolences to the greiving relatives .

      • life (24/04/2013, 09:04) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
        May God go before you! Lead, Guide and Direct you!

        We thank you with all our hearts! We absolutely appreciate what you have done for us!

        Peace! until we meet again Ms. Gunter
  • seeing you (24/04/2013, 00:46) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    God bless to Tessa. this is kind of person to be proud of...wish there more of. Respects to her family.
    The other species of this planet respect also this kind of a person. Sorry to see she leave here.
    Glad she does so much good there....
  • Close Friend (24/04/2013, 02:34) Like (26) Dislike (3) Reply
    RIP Tessa. At some point we know you'll connect with us to relay whatever messages you have for the family. We know that though you're gone in person, you are still amongst us. You love and light are eternal. Love always.

    • Contact (24/04/2013, 08:43) Like (31) Dislike (0) Reply
      Now, what is there to dislike about Close Friend's post? The person(s) that hit the Dislike button should have some respect. People like you make us sick.
  • Yep (24/04/2013, 08:26) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    may her soul rest in peace the mother of the animals
  • >< (24/04/2013, 08:33) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    She taught me judo a long time ago
  • Smile (24/04/2013, 08:55) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    Lord put ah hand on her family and the shelter she would be surely missed
  • Oh My (24/04/2013, 09:02) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
    RIP Tessa. You will be missed. Thank you for all you have done advocating on the animal's behalf. Your work will forever continue.
  • sad (24/04/2013, 11:49) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is such a huge loss for the Humane Society and animal lovers and what great contributions she made to the BVI community --- I do agree that the animal shelter should be named after her. RIP Tessa , you will surely be missed.
  • aaliyah (24/04/2013, 16:19) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    what can i say oh my god. tessa i saw every visits u made with ur daughter to the doctors . coming up on the ferry boats was the worst. but u always had a smile. i thank u for introducing my four year old daughter to the different types of animals. she most enjoy the rabbits and the monkey. rest in peace. u will be forever missed.
  • egg face (24/04/2013, 16:21) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    oh gosh I cannot belive this...RIP Tessa
  • Condolensces (24/04/2013, 18:40) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    She was a positive & very nice lady. I encountered her a couple times. My prayes are with her family to cope with this hard time.
  • SC Brown (24/04/2013, 22:20) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Our sincere condolences goes out to her family and the staff of the animal shelter.

    Tessa's love for helpless, abandoned and abused animals was unparalleled. She was militant in her belief to only match pets in need of homes with adoptive "parents" if she felt that they would be given proper care and love. We have been privileged to adopt pets through Tessa and the animal shelter that have enriched our lives. You can rest now, the animals will be safe and your legacy will live on.

    We will miss you Tessa...RIP
  • Dora (26/04/2013, 13:28) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Tessa you were a wonderful woman. If it were not for you and your staff I would not have, who I call my baby dog, Dora. She brings joy to our home and makes each day entertaining. Who knew that little tiny fur ball would grow to become my best friend and confidant, big sister to another adopted dog, and neighborhood alarm system. We thank you and you will be missed. May you rest in peace.
  • Marie (27/04/2013, 22:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    A lovely woman with a big heart. I got my dog who was abused from the shelter and the dog is now doing fine. I hope more people support by getting some of these poor animals and give them a loving home. Sympathies goes out to her family and loved ones.
  • sheila (28/04/2013, 10:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    i hope someone carries out or contiune her good works

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