Natural disasters are incredibly stressful events that require immediate action to survive. People often leave their belongings, their house, and sometimes even their pets behind in order to seek a safe haven. Once their guardians leave, dogs and cats have no other choice but to try to survive themselves. Sometimes that means escaping their home and trying to find help from humans elsewhere. Other times it’s staying in the house and trying to find a safe spot to wait until their family comes back. And every once in a while, they have to simply wait and hope that a kind people will come and save them.
For many of the animals who were left behind in the wake of Hurricane Maria, that kind savior is rescue group, The Sato Project.
The Sato Project, a non-profit dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned dogs from Puerto Rico, focuses on the municipality of Yabucoa, on the southeastern coast of the island, sadly rated the poorest of all 78 Puerto Rican municipalities.
The Sato Project primary rescue operations are on Dead Dog Beach, which is exactly how it sounds. Dead Dog Beach is a dumping group for unwanted dogs, with no fresh water or food provided. The Sato Project goes to Dead Dog Beach every day to provide medication, food, water, and love to the stray dogs, as well as perform a head count. The Sato Project also focuses on emergency veterinary care, as well as spay and neuter to help prevent the pet overpopulation crisis from worsening.
Most recently, The Sato Project has been working tirelessly to rescue the dogs caught in Hurricane Maria‘s wrath. The group has been on the ground providing critical supplies and evacuating dogs to the United States and into safety.
Out of the Storm and On to a New Life
The Sato Project recently transported 60 dogs, including dogs rescued prior to Maria, as well as dogs rescued during and after Hurricane Irma. The Sato Project reports that there as only one small back of three resident stray dogs at Dead Dog Beach at the time of Hurricane Maria, but despite the brave efforts of the rescue team, the dogs were unable to be captured. The Sato Project has continued to look for the trio, but they sadly believe they have perished.
One of the most recent rescue flights included a heavily pregnant dog, along with another small dog. The Sato Project coordinated foster homes within their network for most of the dogs. Animal Haven, a NYC-based non-profit animal shelter, took about 17 puppies and the pregnant mama dog as well since they are more equipped to care for a dog about to give birth, as well as her newborn puppies.
The Sato Project and Animal Haven have had a worthy partnership since September 2014, when the first Sato Project dogs arrived at Animal Haven from a rescue mission. Founded in 1967, Animal Haven operates a shelter in Manhatten, and with the partnership with The Sato Project, dogs have the chance of being seen by potential adopters.
Gromit, pictured above, was taken in by Jennifer Lopez’s makeup artist, Kate Best.
Medical treatment for each of the dogs averages $1,000 per dog. If the dog requires longer treatment, the cost could skyrocket into the several thousand. From there, The Sato Project also has to pay for their flight, which averages out to $250 per dog.
Once on the mainland, the dogs usually stay in foster homes for about two to three weeks while they recuperate. From there, the dogs will find their forever homes. The Sato Project commits to every dog for life. If at any time the family can longer take care of the dog, The Sato Project will take the dog back.
Feeling Inspired to Help Animal Rescues in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster?
Being inundated with rescued animals is hard on groups and shelters of any size, but it’s especially burdensome on smaller shelters with limited resources and those without a network of foster homes. After a disaster, rescue organizations across the country band together to help take in animals from overwhelmed shelters, but they can’t do it alone.
One way you can help shelters make room – and save lives in the process – is to adopt or offer to be a foster home for animals. People often make the mistake of thinking that shelters are adopting out animals rescued from the disaster, forever separating them from their families in the process, but that isn’t the case. The goal in these situations is to move the animals that were already in the shelter, making room for new animals until they can be reunited with their families.
Keep in mind that thousands of people step up to help in these situations, so even if an organization doesn’t need your help right away, that doesn’t mean they won’t need it later. Many organizations located in disaster areas will continue to need help for several months (if not longer) as they recover from the devastation and work to reunite pets with their families, so be patient until an opportunity becomes available.
For more information about The Sato Project, visit their website.
For more information about Animal Haven, visit their website.
Image source: The Sato Project