Thanks to activists’ efforts, 205 dogs of various breeds and sizes now have another chance at life. On Wednesday, the abandoned dogs which were destined to be euthanized were transported via airlift to the U.S. mainland. Now, animal welfare advocates are working to secure them forever homes.
In Puerto Rico, dog overpopulation is a big issue. It persists, however, due to poor funding for animal shelters and the low spay and neuter rate. As a result, it is not uncommon to see packs of homeless dogs (called “satos”) roaming the streets in Puerto Rico.
Kimberly Alboum, director of policy engagement and shelter outreach for the Humane Society of the United States, told AP Press: “The shelters in Puerto Rico have no choice. They run out of room and, unfortunately, they have to euthanize for space. It’s heartbreaking for the staff and it’s devastating because these animals are all highly adoptable.”
To combat the high rate of dog homelessness, activists have been educating locals on the importance of “fixing” their pets. They are also seeking homes for many of the dogs which have been abandoned by islanders who cannot afford to keep them. “People are leaving the island in droves because they can’t afford to live here,” said Christina Beckles, founder of the Puerto Rico-based Sato Project. “I would never condone someone abandoning an animal, but I understand.”
This latest effort is believed to be the largest number of dogs airlifted in a single trip. According to AP News, most of the animals came from two shelters: one in the hills near Mayaguez that has a difficult time finding homeowners due to the remote location, and another in Cabo Rojo. The second is located in a condemned building that has no power or water.
All of the dogs received check-ups by veterinarians and then were transported to various locations in the U.S. The canines flew in two planes provided by the animal welfare group Wings of Rescue. Some dogs ended up in shelters in Florida and North Carolina, while others were sent to New York City.
Fortunately, everyone expects the pups to be adopted quite quickly. Said shelter director Mary Steffen, “They’ll all get adopted. They will go fast.”
h/t AP News