Between the towns of Toa Baja and Catano, just west of San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico, there is a road stop near the mouth of the river that is frequented by fishermen. It is a solitary place, with no buildings or homes nearby, and just the few passing cars to find the dogs that are abandoned there each week. In early July, a good Samaritan noticed Helena and her 6 puppies near the road, and placed them into a small enclosure with food and water. Fearing that the pups would escape the enclosure and walk onto the road, he contacted a local rescue group, Animalitos de Dios PR. Rescue volunteers arranged to pick up the dogs, and to provide much needed veterinary care, all funded by their own volunteers and donors. Knowing that the greatest chance for adoption was transport to the mainland, the rescue group contacted LDCRF, and then arranged and funded the flight to the US. For Animalitos de Dios, the day of the flight was a huge victory for them, since, through their hard work and fundraising, 7 dogs fewer would die on the streets of Puerto Rico.
But, of course, many dogs, cats, and puppies in Puerto Rico are not so lucky. Estimates of the number of stray and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico range from 100,000 to 250,000. Obstacles to overcoming the pet overpopulation problem are many: few local adoption options, only 5 local animal shelters for the entire island, lack of belief in spay and neuter of pets, difficulty enforcing animal control and cruelty, and a poor economy. Several isolated beaches and areas, such as the road stop near Toa Baja and Catano, are used as “dumping grounds” for unwanted dogs and puppies. Local rescues bring much needed food and water to these areas, and take in as many adoptable dogs as possible. While spay and neuter is the only solution to the overpopulation problem, transport to the mainland currently provides the only hope for saving lives.
While most of our animals come from the southern and eastern US, LDCRF helps where the need is great. Some rescues, such as those in Puerto Rico, provide veterinary care and shots for their puppies before arriving at LDCRF. Funding from the $100K Challenge would go a long way to providing more medical care for all of our dogs and cats, and would allow LDCRF to continue to save puppies like Delgado and his siblings.
Perhaps momma Helena knows how slim her chances of survival were, but her pups, who are Facebook fans helped to name – Delgado, Rodriquez, Sierra, Gonzalez, Molina, and Clemente – only know the joy of running in the grass, and taking part in the puppy kissy booth at Lost Dog’s first August 5K last Friday night. As the $100K Challenge comes to a close this month, let’s keep working together to save lives that have just begun.