Since 2013, Animal Lighthouse Rescue has been working with El Faro de los Animales, a no-kill shelter in Puerto Rico, to help them rescue and rehabilitate pups on the island, and find them forever homes on the mainland. With low adoption rates—and high euthanasia rates—the work they do to help pay for medical fees and supplies, and help transport the dogs to safety, is invaluable.
The dogs there are called Satos, and they are pretty awesome pups: "Most have lived on the streets, exposed to lots of people and animals, so they tend to make great pets for homes with kids or other animals," says Ava Smith, deputy managing director at ALR. "And because many have been abandoned or have never known a loving home, they bond to their rescuers with an unmatched love."
Over the years, ALR and El Faro have rescued thousands of dogs, giving them a real second chance with their new pet parents in the States. They also work to raise awareness around the importance of animal welfare through community outreach, improving the conditions for strays not just in Puerto Rico, but around the world, too.
But when Hurricane Irma hit, El Faro suffered structural damage, losing electricity and running water, impeding their ability to care for the animals there. "Without clean water and refrigerated medication, it is difficult to complete the required protocol in order to get them on commercial flights," explains Smith. But they were able to get four pups out and transport them to New York.
Three of them are brothers—Remy, Riley and Rex—whose mom they rescued six months earlier. Two have been adopted, but Riley—a sweet and playful pup—is still waiting to find his forever home. The fourth, named Panda--a one-year old mellow pup shown below--is also still up for adoption.
However Hurricane Maria completely destroyed the El Faro facility. It's without a roof, and all of their equipment and supplies have been destroyed. They evacuated around 130 animals (60 dogs and 65 cats) to homes and vet offices in the area, but there is nowhere for them to return to.
So far, ALR has been able to raise enough money to pay for a generator and new water tanks, but they were not received in time before Maria struck. "We will need to rebuild the roof and much of the infrastructure, and we need to cover mounting veterinary costs to care for the strays that did not have shelter during the storm," says Ryan Schira, director of marketing at ALR.
They're working to raise additional funds to re-build, and every contribution helps! You can make donations here and they will likely need foster homes and aid with transport once they can begin to get the dogs off of the island. If you're in NYC, you can also participate in their Strut Your Mutt team walk to raise money.
"These hurricanes and severe weather patterns won’t go away any time soon, and neither will the need for rescuing Satos. It’s up to us as a society to make a concerted effort and take care of our planet and the animals on it," says Schira. "Though we’re all in this together, each individual effort helps, and there is no action too small to make a difference."