The Sato Project has made a heroic effort rescuing stray dogs from Puerto Rico—and that was before Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year. In the wake of those deadly storms, their work has been nothing short of miracle work.
Dedicated to saving and rehabilitating what are called “Satos” in PR (abused and abandoned dogs), the non-profit organization originally focused on the municipality of Yabucoa, in one of the poorest areas called “Dead Dog Beach,” where people would abandon their pets. Since the Project was founded in 2011 by Chrissy Beckles, they’ve been able to rescue over 2500 dogs mostly from that region. They bring the abandoned pups to local veterinarians so they can be spayed or neutered and vaccinated, microchipped, and then flown to the US so they can be adopted.
Pre-hurricane, they were flying five to ten dogs back to the mainland a month. After? They’re chartering planes with over one hundred dogs every six weeks, finding homes for most of them before they even leave the island and sending the rest to their partner rescue organizations to be fostered. It’s a tireless effort that’s made possible by the Sato Project team that’s made up of a few clinic workers in PR who rescue the dogs, volunteers who help on the transport day, the pilot who flies them to the states and a team of volunteers that gets them ready to be adopted post-flight.
It’s the flights that can often be the most costly, averaging around $250 per dog (with 100 pups on a flight, you do the math!) In an effort to help fray some of that expense, Ollie has committed to flying at least five dogs a month back to the US and to feed them while they’re in foster care. We’ve been totally moved by some of these pups’ rescue stories from the past few flights and had to share them:
This mom and son boxers were owner surrenders after Hurricane Maria. Because of their polar opposite personalities—”Arnold is like an 18 year old that needs to be kicked out of the house!”—the Sato Project powers that be decided to pursue separate adopters. He’s found human parents in New Jersey who embrace his goofball-ish energy and she’s bonded with her new low-key kitty sister in Brooklyn.
This pup practically rescued herself! She came running through the doors of the vet clinic while they were preparing for their next transport in February. They immediately took her in and flew her to the States even though she didn’t have an adopter lined up—though she quickly found her new family after being taken in by Animal Haven. They continue to refer to her as their ‘Lucky Charm’!
These four puppies have all undergone incredible transformations: after being rescued in March in terrible condition, with some of the worst mange the clinic workers had seen, they’ve made amazing comebacks in just two months. Alina and Rayan have since been adopted but Tegan and Adin (who are happily eating Ollie!) are still looking for their families while in foster care.
Heidi was rescued pregnant and gave birth to nine puppies while in the Sato Project’s care. Because she was such a protective mom, they were concerned about finding her the right home. But her adopter took her in and gave her all the TLC and patience she needed to transform into a happy pup who loves going on long runs and gets along with other dogs.
Finn was found as a puppy, tied up in an abandoned house without access to food or water—it’s likely that his original family left him after one of the storms. After he was rescued, he received many applications for adoption and was eventually welcomed into a family in New Jersey who had another husky. Even though he can be a bit of a ‘bruiser’ on occasion ("he must have learned some street smarts in PR") they’re getting along great!
If you want to help support the Sato Project and the amazing work they do, the best way to get involved is to donate money for supplies, the flights, and medication the dogs need. You can also volunteer to help during the transports and, of course, become a foster parent or adopt one of the pups!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
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