The plight of any stray dog is never good. But in Puerto Rico, it is especially grim. With spay/neuter not among the common practices in the area, there are thousands of stray dogs throughout the island. This causes an atmosphere where they are subject to neglect, cruelty and dumping practices, all which ultimately can lead to their death.
Exacerbating the issue, the five Municipal Shelters in Puerto Rico share a euthanasia rate of 99%, with the vast majority of animals not even spending 24 hours in the shelter before being put down.
Lending a Helping Hand
The Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA) teamed up with the Sato Dream Home, a rescue dedicated to saving the lives of abused and abandoned dogs from Puerto Rico, to save seven streets dogs. Sato is a slang term used in Puerto Rico to refer to a mixed breed dog. Sato Dream Home, along with other Sato rescues, collaborate to rescue dogs from areas where they are routinely dumped, like many beaches, without access to food or fresh water.
“Sato Dream Home reached out to us via an ASPCA tool that helps connect rescuers across the country to match needs with opportunities,” Gillian Kocher, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the PSPCA told iHeartDogs.
The dogs, which have all been sponsored by local advocates and were chosen based on several criteria, arrived via American Airlines on Tuesday January 19.
(It is important to note that all dogs that go through the Sato Dream Home are taken to a veterinarian’s office in Puerto Rico immediately following rescue. There they are tested for parvovirus, parasites, heartworm and distemper.)
After arrival, the dogs from Puerto Rico will enter a 14-day quarantine at the Pennsylvania SPCA. During this time, they will not be in contact with any of the current shelter animals to ensure for the safety of both groups. After their isolation, and with all health and wellness checks in order, the dogs will be available for adoption.
“All of our dogs, including these, receive a behavior assessment by our behavior team to help match them to appropriate families,” Kocher said.
Education is Key
Along with rescuing dogs from areas like the beach and in the mountains, finding them foster homes, and ultimately adopting them through shelters like the PSPCA, it is the mission of Sato Dream Home to change how the dogs are treated through educational and spay/neuter programs.
The Pennsylvania SPCA’s mission, dating back nearly 150 years, has been to protect and prevent animal cruelty and neglect, as well as contribute to saving the lives of animals subjected to it.
Sharing a similar philosophy and mission as Sato Dream Home, which is to educate the public about the proper treatment and health of animals, the PSPCA was eager to accept the transport of animals from Puerto Rico to its Erie Avenue headquarters.
“The Pennsylvania SPCA has always been dedicated to utilizing all of our resources in order to save the lives of animals in need,” said Jerry Buckley, PSPCA CEO. “When we have the opportunity to make an impact on an area in great distress, we take action not only as an act of goodwill, but as an occasion to make a difference in the lives of these and future animals.”
“We all work out of our own pockets, some of us for decades, without any funding because we see no other option,” said Sabine Bachner of Sato Dream Home. “We cannot close our eyes as we go about our everyday lives, seeing puppies or dogs left behind. It is our mission not only to get these dogs out of Puerto Rico to safety, but to visit schools and educate children about this epidemic. We cannot do it alone, we need the help of organizations like the PSPCA.”
The PSPCA is hoping to continue to help Sato Dream Home in the future.
“We hope to be able to help in the future if the timing is right and we have the capacity to rescue additional dogs,” said Kocher. “Our first priority is to local animals, especially through our Humane Law Enforcement mission.”
In addition, she said that there are many other rescues that jump in to help every day. There was even another rescue at the airport at the same time as PSPCA, also picking up dogs.
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