We wanted to help. Hurricane Maria had left Puerto Rico without power, clean water, and severe travel/weight restrictions regarding owned pets limited the number of dogs and cats that could leave the island with their families. 1 Love 4 Animals reached out to two highly respected organizations known for assisting dogs on the island: The Sato Project and All Sato Rescue. Both of these rescue groups partner with the unflappable Wings of Rescue and have saved the lives of countless pets left devastated by the recent hurricanes. Unfortunately, raising the funds to cover the cost of charting the planes to help all the animals that needed to be helped proved to be difficult. 1 Love reached out to our friends and we were able to raise $65K to help with two transports saving over 300 pets.
The Sato Project organized the first transport: 112 crates carrying 127 dogs destined for Florida and North Jersey. 1 Love 4 Animals raised $30K for this airlift and we were there in Puerto Rico on the 18th of December working alongside Chrissy Beckles and her dedicated volunteers loading dogs onto the plane. Over fifty pets were reunited with their families in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. The remaining dogs were met by rescue groups and will find new homes in time for the New Year. Nine little dogs came to 1 Love 4 Animals and are now up for adoption.
Hurricane Maria made landfall at a place called "Dead Dog Beach" - where dogs are often abandoned and left to die. Trees, trunks bleached and stripped of their bark, stood like dinosaur bones around damaged homes and businesses. Locals shared stories of wading through 3' of raw sewage and waiting hours for gas to operate their cars so they could charge their cell phones. Hurricane Maria spent 16 hours pummeling the island with 165 mile an hour winds, and when she finished the bodies of dead horses and livestock littered the island. Many of the locals still did not have electricity when we were there, three months after the storm first hit.
1 Love 4 Animals was proud to partner with the The Sato Project and we're grateful to our friends and supporters for donating the money we needed to assist these incredible groups. Wings of Rescue was just featured on the Animal Planet's "5 Groups to Watch." A well-deserved inclusion for Ric Browde and his colleagues who do so much and save so many.
And as far as Chrissy and her volunteers at The Sato Project, this story speaks to their unfailing commitment to the animals of Puerto Rico. One of our previous adopters read on Facebook that we were helping dogs in Puerto Rico and reached out about a little dog that was living on the streets outside a Best Western in Levittown, Puerto Rico. He told me he was there as a contractor and was feeding the dog but had to come home and had no way of getting the dog to Pennsylvania. As exhausted as the Sato volunteers were after tagging the dogs, comforting the families, and lifting over 100 crates onto the plane's conveyor belt, they jumped in their cars and headed to Levittown and rescued the dog at our request. "Taco" is now at a vet hospital in Puerto Rico and will be reunited with our previous adopter in Doylestown, PA after a three week quarantine period.
Ten days later, 1 Love 4 Animals drove to Worcester, Massachusetts to meet the second transport of abandoned or surrendered pets from Puerto Rico. This time our volunteers worked with All Sato Rescue and the canine passengers were met by numerous no-kill foster-based rescues throughout New England. Twig Mowatt and All Sato volunteers organized the charter (again with Wings of Rescue) and 1 Love's donors contributed $35K to fuel the plane. Everyone doing what they can to help animals that continue to suffer in the aftermath of these unprecedented storms. We are now collecting donations for future projects to help animals both far and right here in the Delaware Valley.
Click on a thumbnail image above to see a gallery of photos from the Puerto Rico airlift. Photos by Eric Forberger