Imagine owning a cute, innocent puppy. You train it, you take good care of it, and you love it unconditionally. After two months you notice it’s not a little puppy anymore. The dog has been growing and will continue to grow; it’s too big and angers you. You leave this dog which is full of unconditional love on the streets. This puppy is confused- how could you devote so much time and affection to something then leave it on its own? The poor dog will struggle to find food, water, and someone to love them. Sadly, in Puerto Rico this kind of thing happens every day.
According to The Huffington Post, “There’s an estimated 500,000 stray dogs in Puerto Rico, a US Commonwealth about the size of Connecticut.” This sad sight is seen as “normal” by the natives. The stray dogs, which are called ¨satos¨, are seen as vermin. Satos live short lives of neglect and abuse, for doing nothing wrong. Many people notice this issue, and have tried to help, but it is such a large epidemic it doesn’t make much of a difference. One of these groups, called The Sato Project, have made a significant effect on the issue. This Puerto Rican outreach focuses their efforts on “Dead Dogs Beach”.
Well-known for being a dumping ground for unwanted dogs, this mortal beach located on the South-East coast of the island is one of the biggest problems Puerto Rico faces. Sophie Gamand, a New York based award winning photographer reflects,
“On the beach, some of the dogs are very frightened or completely feral. Others have lived in homes and follow people around the beach, wagging their tails, looking for their owners, food, or a gentle hand. Some dogs are in a state of shock. Others, reconnecting with their deep wild nature, organize themselves into packs in their battle for survival,” noted Gamand on her website Sophie Gamand.
According to The Sato Project official website they ¨have rescued over 2,000 dogs to date, rehabilitated them with the highest standards of veterinary care and placed them in loving homes in the mainland U.S.”
This group ships the strays to Brooklyn, N.Y. so adopting these dogs is convenient for people living in the area. They realize that shipping these dogs to the states will make it easier for people to adopt. Looking into the website, the dogs are mostly mutts. Evidently, they have lots of scars and cuts from living on their own. The website shows detailed pictures of dogs on the beach. Most dogs are starving, with their ribs poking out and arches in their back. Pictured with a melancholy look, the puppies are seen with their ears pushed back and heads down in vulnerability. Some dogs are pictured in packs, trying to fight for food.
Yamailys Diodonet, student moved from Puerto Rico after the hurricane, empathized with the dog’s plight.
“There is a lot. In the little town I used to live in, there was a serious case of stray dogs. Everywhere you went there would be at least five to ten stray dogs. There were everywhere around stores, the town plaza, in abandoned houses, just everywhere,” Diodonet elaborated, ¨The town noticed this problem and they started rescuing the dogs. They made shelters for them so they would be cared for and eventually people started to adopt them.”
The Sato Project is desperately looking for adopters. Especially after Hurricane Maria, more and more strays are being found under bridges, stuck in destroyed parts, and loitering around damaged towns. Now more than ever, adopting a dog from The Sato Project will help out Puerto Rico in fixing the amends caused by the hurricane.
For more information, check out The Sato Project website.