Each morning before their work days begin, volunteers from Colitas de Amor (“Little Tails of Love”) en Juncos, a five member animal rescue group in eastern Puerto Rico, head down an isolated, narrow, and long road that ends at the town’s municipal landfill. This unlit one mile route, along which garbage trucks speed recklessly, is where the volunteers find the daily group of stray and abandoned animals, some new and some old friends. Too many times they also find boxes with kittens and puppies inside, left at the edge of the road at the entrance to the landfill. They bring food along with medical supplies to deworm and vaccinate most of the dogs on-site, and work slowly to capture and spay all of the females. However, most of the dogs must remain on the street, awaiting a spot to open up in their limited foster homes, which only occurs when other animals have been adopted locally or transported to a rescue organization on the mainland. Funds for medical care and transport come primarily from their own incomes, although they receive some donations through their Facebook page. Sadly, the amount of abandoned animals has increased since the group began feeding them, possibly because residents now view the rescue group as a solution to the pets they no longer want. Despite all of these obstacles, Colitas de Amor has rescued more than 100 dogs and cats in the past year, and several have made their way to LDCRF.
Last November, two beautiful female lab pups, both very skinny and very shy, appeared along the route one day. Weeks passed while volunteers worked to gain their trust and to secure a foster home. In early December, pups Nala and Abby were finally rescued, given veterinary care, fostered, and provided with all the love and socialization that they needed. Last step – securing the $300 to $350 needed to fly a healthy dog to the US and coordinating transport with LDCRF – and Nala and Abby, now 6 months old, were on their way. An animals’ journey from a difficult situation to home, via LDCRF, can be long or short, complicated or simple. In Nala’s case, it began with the passion and commitment of a handful of volunteers in Juncos, Puerto Rico, and ended with a little bit of magic. After leaving Puerto Rico on a Friday morning and boarding two flights, Nala caught the eye and heart of the pilot of her final flight into Dulles Airport. He had been considering adopting a dog for his family, and he noticed both Nala and Abby in the cargo area when they landed. That night, he attended the Friday Fair Lakes adoption event, where Nala became part of his family. Nala’s new dad says, “My family is so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to adopt her – she is such a sweet dog. As my wife told me, Nala adopted us, so we are equally fortunate to have her in our home.”
Happy endings like Nala’s, and Abby’s adoption by a wonderful couple that weekend, make all of the long hours worth it for volunteers from Colitas de Amor. However, their goal is to accomplish even more than happy endings – they want to educate residents about the need for spay and neuter, and change attitudes concerning the neglect and indiscriminate abandonment of animals. One volunteer explains, “Besides using our Facebook page for promotion of adoptions, we use it to educate about spaying, since it is the main factor to control the overpopulation of poor dogs we see not only on our route but all through Puerto Rico. And we wish for more opportunities like the golden tickets Nala and Abby had through Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation!!!”