Four months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, people are still trying to put their lives back together. However, dogs and cats are roaming the streets homeless, being called “satos,” a term Puerto Ricans use meaning mutt. They are abandoned and starving, trying to make it on the streets.
Luckily, Mirah Horowitz and her Virginia-based rescue group, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, came up with a plan to save these animals and help the people of Puerto Rico. Horowitz emailed Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelly, which resulted in a donated flight. The airline donated a round trip flight complete with a full staff to the cause. The staff volunteered for the flight, aware that it was not paid.
62 cats and dogs were crated and prepared for their journey to their forever homes by Puerto Rico Alliance for Companion Animals (PR Animals). Puerto Ricans are having to surrender their dogs as there are not supplies or resources to care for themselves, and definitely not a dog. This is a hard choice as dogs are part of the family in Puerto Rico.
“My dog is not my pet. My dog is my family. Puerto Ricans, we love our dogs. Our satos. They are part of our culture, part of us,” Sonia Collazo told The Washington Post.
The plane, fully stocked with 14,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies and dog food, landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 20. Every seat and overhead bin was stocked full of supplies that were not occupied by a volunteer, states The Washington Post.
Once all supplies were unloaded, the Boeing 737 was filled with 62 furry passengers and made the return trip to Washington, DC. Each animal’s crate was buckled into their assigned seats, filling the rows with furry faces. Once the plane reached proper altitude, the seatbelt sign was turned off and cuddle time began. The flight attendants were paid back for their time with wet kisses and wagging tails.
“This flight literally saved lives – both of the animals who were transported to DC as well as to those who remain on the island and need the supplies we brought,” states Horowitz.
The animals were greeted by dozens of people waiting to meet and welcome them. However, the journey was not yet over for the pets in Baltimore. They were transported to Gaithersburg, Massachusetts, where many have been adopted! If you are interested in adopting one, visit Lucky Dog’s website.
Here is another story about how 30 stray cats were rescued.
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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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