In the course of recent years, the people, and the island of Puerto Rico have suffered more in the last three years than a whole century alone. With the overwhelming and destructive Hurricane Maria in 2017, a few massive earthquakes and post-quake tremors in 2020, and, most as of late, the famous and most used word in the year 2020, the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the many tragic setbacks that we have encountered throughout the years, the non-profit animal rescue groups like The Foster Club, Save A Sato, and many more were left with a major issue on their hands as the number of stray dogs, called “satos”, on the island grew more and more and will keep growing by the second. In other words, Puerto Rico is basically a pandemic of stray dogs. When you are walking down the street, driving around or even looking out your window you will see a “sato” every time. All alone, abandoned with no one to care for them or help them not knowing what to do. It is up to us to save them and to be the one that will give these “satos” a voice.
What is a “sato”?
Most of society are dog lovers, which means that most of society will want to help them find a loving home. If you are on that side of society, then this is the story for you. I will be talking about the “satos” in Puerto Rico that are in desperate need of our help. What is a “sato” you ask? Well, a “sato” is a term used by the people on the island and is basically a mixed breed dog that are, in many cases, abandoned or even worse abused by their owners and left on the streets alone. The owners usually abandon them on the street or at the beach. Leaving them there without any food or water is a very hard life for a dog. Most of them do not even make it past their second birthday. That is why the islanders have created many different non-profit organizations in order to help them.
Now for the big question in everyone’s minds, how can I help these dogs? I do not even live in Puerto Rico! Well my friend do not worry, I am here to tell you some ways to help them. There are so many dogs abandoned in the streets of Puerto Rico that you can help at any time and any place. Now that technology is so advanced you can even help with just a click of a button.
How can I help?
Since “Save a Sato” is a non-profit organization, they completely rely upon charitable donations in order for them to rescue, rehabilitate, and find loving homes for each and every one of these wonderful loving dogs. They also have a program called “Foster From Afar”, which means that anyone can foster a “sato”, no matter where you live. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the travel restrictions in Puerto Rico are very strict and the dogs are trapped in Puerto Rico until further notice. But don’t you fret, and don’t you frown because they have come up with an amazing solution to this problem. You can still have the opportunity to foster a “sato” virtually! It is just like in-person fostering, you will help guarantee your foster dog has all the supplies they need in order to have a happy and secure place until they can travel to their forever homes. You will provide them food, water, and a comfortable spot to rest each night. Last, but not least you also have the opportunity to adopt a “sato” of your own. Which is personally, the best thing that I have done. They are so loving, unique and grateful for having you in their life.
My adoption journey
Adopting a dog is very different than, in a sense “shopping” for one. I myself have done both and let me tell you that it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Do not get me wrong I love them both equally. But the feeling you get knowing that you have saved their life and getting the chance to care for them and giving them a loving home is incredible. I have always wanted to foster a dog but with school and extracurricular activities I did not have any time. Luckily, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I had all the time in the world to take care of a dog for a few months. I was so excited when my parents finally said yes, that I called “Save a Sato” right away and “poof” I was an official foster parent.
When you foster or adopt a dog, they tell you the background story of the dog that you are going to take care of. My “sato’s’ story was that she and her other brothers and sisters were abandoned by their mother on a beach in Aguadilla, they were covered with fleas and you could tell that they were starving because you could see their tiny little bones sticking out of their bodies. The first time I looked at my “sato’s” eyes, I immediately fell in love with her and decided to call her Parcha, which means passion fruit in Spanish. She was supposed to stay with us for 2 months, but my family and I loved her so much that we decided to adopt her and be a part of our family. Now she is living her life to the fullest, playing and eating 24/7 with a family that truly loves her. This experience has changed my life forever and I am so happy that I got a chance to be a part of this amazing project.
The Beginning of the Sato Project
There is a beach in Puerto Rico called Playa Lucia that has become the epicenter of the “sato” problem. The locals decided to change the name of the beach to “Dead Dog Beach” due to the many “satos” roaming around abandoned, starving or even dead. A woman called, Christina Beck has worked for many years to try and save as many “satos” as she can. She was so passionate about it that she even has a project called “The Sato Project” that helps dogs get vaccinated, neutered, find new homes and many more.
The project was booming, a lot of people started volunteering, but then… Hurricane Maria came, and all went crumbling down. Hurricane Maria was a devastating time for the island, people, and animals of Puerto Rico. Everything was destroyed or gone, there was no power, no water, nothing. The volunteers started fostering over 50 dogs, but there were a lot to handle with many still on the streets. It took a lot of manpower trying to rebuild the project but with the help from the volunteers and a little faith everything started falling into place.
Another great resource that the Sato Project has is getting the chance to unite with Wings of Rescue. They fly endangered pets from being abandoned and abused to loving homes. They have been the light that helped Puerto Rico go from misery and darkness to having hope for the future. This chartered plane has transported thousands of dogs from Puerto Rico to the states were the adopters are waiting anxiously to meet their new member of the family. Wings of Rescue started helping out Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and they have never stopped since.
I am very glad that I got the chance to spread the word about the incredible things that the different non-profit organizations have done and, hopefully, will continue to do. It feels my heart with joy seeing everybody come together as a community doing everything they can in order to give these amazing dogs a voice. There are so so so many abandoned dogs alone in the streets without a voice. We have to be their voice; they are the ones that need help and we have the resources do it. Not many people know how to help these dogs.