Tagged: “hurricane maria”

Paws For The Cause

Paws For The Cause

By volunteer: Carlie Jenney, interviewing Shelter Director Adrienne Galler Lastra

Backstory:

In many countries throughout the world, the mistreatment and overpopulation of animals has been a problem. Puerto Rico is no exception; the issue has been relevant for a very long time and the problem has only intensified. Not many people realize the severity of the issue.

The exact number of stray animals is a mystery, but the number is significantly large. The problem of overpopulation could be fixed over time if people began to spay and neuter their pets. This way the dogs wouldn’t be able to continuously reproduce on the streets. However, cultural beliefs (that spaying and neutering is not right or unnatural); low economic resources; and a lack of education as to the purpose of spaying and neutering, hold some people back from making that commitment to their pets.

The stray dogs of Puerto Rico are referred to as “satos” which is Puerto Rican slang for street dogs. Not only are these animals roaming the streets searching for food, reproducing and becoming sick, they are being abused and often times mistreated: abuse sometimes is as extreme as being put in plastic bags, shot or taunted.

There aren’t many organizations able to help or government assistance, so small rescues based out of people’s homes are struggling to raise awareness and educate as many people as possible, on top of helping the animals themselves.

Jenney’s Interview of Adri Galler, “Guardian de los Satos,” (Protector of the Satos), in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, September 20, 2017

Amigos de los Animales (ADLA) is a dog rescue based out of a woman’s home in Puerto Rico. Now that Hurricane Maria has hit the island, things have gotten harder and harder for ADLA. The woman who somehow balances getting back on her feet from this horrible natural disaster AND taking care of the dogs being tied to her porch is more than a hero in the eyes of many people.

Many know her as the Guardian of the Satos. Satos is the Puerto Rican slang for ” street dog”. In other words, she is the guardian of the street digs. There are nearly 300,000 stray dogs roaming the streets. To put that into perspective, for every 11 people there’s one stray dog.

Adri feeding one of 10 new-born puppies who’s mom had to go through a cesarean and would not give her puppies milk. All 10 puppies survived and were sent to Shadow Rose Farm in Kentucky.

How did you get involved in this field?

Guardian of the Satos Adri Galler Lastra has lived in Puerto Rico since she was 19. During this time she studied Music Education; cared for her mother in her mom’s house in the beach town of Piñones, Loiza; and noticed the ill-treatment of the animals around her: “It has always been a horrible issue with the animals in Puerto Rico,” she recalls. When Adri’s mother passed away she explains that her heart told her to do something, something good. She was left with a house and her passion for animals and the problem they faced in Puerto Rico.

So, she took advantage of the opportunity and started rescuing dogs one by one. “And it happened that I became a shelter, I couldn’t leave these dogs to fend for themselves. People think they can fend for themselves, they’re domesticated and there’re pets.”  At one point, there were over 115 dogs she took care of by herself. She does everything in her ability to accommodate as many dogs as she can. Adri puts emphasis on the fact that she was chosen to do this and that she is not a hero. Of course she is a hero, who is doing an amazing thing for a very good cause.

ADLA residents on their crates during Saturday Cleaning Day. ADLA will have between 55 to 70 dogs at the Shelter at one time.

Who are you protecting?

Adri’s hero name is a perfect way to explain who she is protecting. Guardian of the Satos, protector of the street dogs, she is their saving grace. Since most dogs are domesticated they aren’t built to be out in the elements, and it shortens their lifespan, they have to deal with a lot of horrible stuff. She is protecting the dogs, because they can’t protect themselves.

As time goes on, and more people become educated as to properly caring for their pets, with the help of the Guardian of the Satos, the situation will improve. Already, more people are beginning to feed and rescue the strays.


ADLA does not have an on-site veterinarian. Veterinary Assistant students from EDIC College in Carolina, Puerto Rico regularly come to give check-ups to the dogs.

Why is this such a big problem and how can it be fixed?

It’s a problem because not enough people care (or know) about the overpopulation issue. The dogs continue to multiply because many of them were never fixed by their owners. The only way this problem will ever come to an end is through education and awareness: “The effort to save animals, goes towards educating people.” People need to be more responsible, sterilize their animals, and not dump them when they are no longer wanted.

Adri explains how she raises awareness to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome as many dogs as possible. She dedicates her life to capturing these injured and sick dogs, fix them up, and in most cases, sends them to the United States for adoption at partner no-kill shelters. It’s also important to raise awareness for sterilization. If people know they’re planning on getting a dog, they should be responsible pet owners and get them fixed.

In Puerto Rico a majority of the stray animals receive an injury of some sort. Whether it is broken bones, lost limbs, disease, virus of some sort, its always something. Adri has personal experience with rescuing dogs in this state. Some of them don’t always make it, because they are too sick or too broken. Adri’s mission is to help as many as she can.

Micah was rescued early 2018. He had an old wound on his underbelly which had partially healed over. He was recently flown to a no-kill shelter in New Hampshire for a faster adoption.

How did Hurricane Maria impact your rescue?

The hurricane was horrifying for anybody who decided to stay and wait out the storm, which turned out to be a category 5 hurricane with nearly 180 mph winds. There were many fatalities, and carcasses scattered the grounds. After the storm happened and a few days had gone by, ” people started leaving their dogs on my doorstep. People should not have been allowed to treat animals this way; the natural disaster turned into a human disaster,” Adri declared.

The storm has made it very hard to Puerto Rico to progress. There are so many dogs each day that Adri sees and can just not take in for lack of space, energy and resources. She is doing everything she can to take in as many as possible, but there is only so much she can do.

Luckily, the ADLA shelter weathered the storm, and the organization is still rescuing and rehoming, as well as raising consciousness within the community. You can help by follow ADLA on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and sharing photos of their pets to increase adoption and visibility! To contact Adri directly, email adri@amigosdelosanimalespr.org.

To donate to Amigos de los Animales and Adri’s rescue mission, click here or send a check to:

Amigos de los Animales, Inc.
PO Box 79477
Carolina, Puerto Rico 00984

Shelter Rebuild: One year after Hurricane Maria

Shelter Rebuild: One year after Hurricane Maria

By Natasha San Miguel, ADLA volunteer

It’s almost the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, and Amigos de los Animales (ADLA) is diligently working to finish rebuilding its dog shelter after the devastating effects of the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, and, according to news reports, resulted in the deaths of over 4,500 Island residents and the disappearance of an unknown amount of stray dogs and cats.

Hurricane Maria threatens the lives of ADLA’s rescue dogs

Located in the beach town of Piñones, Loiza, ADLA’s shelter was hit hard by Maria:

“I stayed at the Shelter during the Hurricane and it was horrible. I thought our roof was going to blow off. The Shelter would have been completely destroyed if not for the boards we put up to protect the windows. The dogs were all freaked out; they didn’t know what was going on,”

says Shelter Director Adrienne Galler Lastra, who has lived at the Shelter for over 10 years and cared for the thousands of dogs rehabilitated be ADLA.

The Shelter houses approximately 60 to 70 stray and abandoned dogs at any given time and the Hurricane left the structure in such a shambles the organization was unsure it would be able to continue rescuing. ADLA either had to come up with a way to rebuild, or the shelter would have to shut down. Some of the destruction consisted of the gates surrounding the Shelter being ripped from their hinges and for months following the hurricane, gates were held up with rope and plastic ties.

shelter rebuild

The hinges could not withstand the force of the Hurricane and gates were being held together by rope. At any time, the rope could have given way and the dogs would have been able to escape the patio of the shelter.

 

gates prior to rebuild

These gates separated the runs from the patio. It was becoming very hard for shelter staff and volunteers to move from the patio to the runs and dogs were at risk of injury from protruding metal screen edges.

 

The coverings of the back and front patio were also ripped off by the wind, as was the tin lining covering the dog runs. The ceiling of the interior of the shelter leaked every time it rained, and the sand brought in from the beach clogged the drainage system in the back.

All over the Shelter the ceiling had begun to deteriorate and after the rains during and following the Hurricane desperately needed a rebar treatment and repatching.

 

back part of shelter drainage

The rebuild begins

In December 2017, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ® (ASPCA) awarded $10,000 to ADLA to put towards rebuilding the Shelter and preventing further damage. Early 2018, PEDIGREE Foundation ® awarded an additional $2,500 for the Rebuild. These funds were instrumental in completing Phase I of the Rebuild: which involved sealing the roof to prevent further damage by rainfall; removing and reinstalling new gating throughout the Shelter; and replacing the covers of the coverings for the front and back patio. The funds also provided for replacing the gates of the runs, along with the tin roofing on the runs which protects the dogs from the sun and rain.

“Thanks to the generous grants we received from ASPCA and Pedigree, we were able to continue to allocate our regular funding towards saving the animals, which was especially important during this time of real need for the community of Loiza and Piñones Beach, and the stray dogs roaming our town.” says Adri.

front porch reconstruction

Front Porch after Rebuild. The carton was replaced as well as some of the wood which had rotted from the moisture.

 

About ADLA and its location

Piñones Beach is a popular beach and weekend hangout for Puerto Ricans. It is also a very low-income neighborhood (with the majority of the population living under the poverty level), and a famous dumping ground for unwanted dogs.

“People think that because they leave the dogs on a beach, and there are kiosks and restaurants all over, and people coming and going, the dogs will get by; some might even hope their dog will get picked them up. But these animals are meant to be cared for as companions, they can’t get by on their own.” Adri continued: “Here, the perception of companion animals is slowly changing. In a way, the media attention Puerto Rico has received since Hurricane Maria has been a blessing for the animals. Not only are more pets being rescued, but people are watching it happen; it’s being broadcast. By witnessing the effort organizations and individuals are willing to put into rescuing, people are realizing these animals are worth it.”

kids on beach with Adri

These are some Piñones residents on the beach with ADLA’s Shelter Director Adri and her service dog Cinderella. Adri regularly visits the beach with Cinderella and usually another well-socialized rescue dogs to teach the young children about proper pet care.

 

Thanks to the grant support, ADLA has been able to continue its mission of rescuing and rehoming stray dogs (some of these extremely abused). Everyday, there are new dogs roaming the streets and the hurricane has exacerbated the situation. Many residents left the Island or lost their house, resulting in the abandonment of their pets. ADLA has rescued close to 200 dogs since the hurricane.

Micah

This is Micah. Micah was rescued on the road that runs along Piñones Beach. He had an old burn wound on his side probably from an acid or grease burn. Micah spent about 2 months at the Shelter before he was transported to New Hampshire by Hearts and Tails Animal Alliance.

 

Manchitas Puppies

These are Manchita’s puppies. Manchita is owned by a homeless woman, and was pregnant but could not give birth. ADLA took Manchita to the vet where a cesarean was performed. Manchita’s 10 babies were bottlefed from birth and at approximately 3 months of age flew to a sister shelter in the United States. In this photo, they are sleeping with their pet gorilla. Their mom Manchita was returned to her owner.

Continuing to Rebuild

The second phase of the Shelter Rebuild is currently underway and involves construction on the ceiling, electrical circuits damaged by the storm, as well as repainting: “We will still lose electricity from time to time, and this damages our circuitry,” Galler-Lastra explained. “We still don’t know the extent of the damage or the full cost of repairs. Yet we are so blessed not have so far been spared of hurricanes or serious storms this year.”

ADLA is looking for volunteers and donations to complete the second phase of the Rebuild. For those interested in contributing funds or services contact info@amigosdelosanimalespr.org. Donations can be given online or sent by mail to HC 2 Box 7622, Loiza, Puerto Rico 00772.

About the PEDIGREE Foundation

Formed in 2008 by the makers of PEDIGREE ® food for dogs, the PEDIGREE ® Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping dogs in need find loving homes by supporting the good work of shelters and dog rescue organizations throughout the country. Through no fault of their own, more than four million dogs end up in shelters and rescue organizations every year, and nearly half of them never find a place to call homes. For more information on how you can support the foundation visit https://www.pedigreefoundation.org/.

About the ASPCA®

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, visit https://www.ASPCA.org, and follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Surviving Hurricane María!

Surviving Hurricane María!

It’s our first update since the Hurricane and we have so much to say, and so many people to thank; it’s a bit over-whelming! But we are committed to keeping this short and sweet.

As you are all aware by now, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico September 20, 2017, only two weeks after Hurricane Irma passed slightly north of the island. Days following Maria, we did without electricity, phone service, or internet; and access to businesses; drinking water was contaminated; and both the Shelter and the town of Loiza experienced damages and losses.

Pets were also victims of this disaster as many residents lost their homes, moved, or no longer had the financial means to care for their animals; additionally, for a time, there was an airline embargo denying shipping of live animals in cargo.

Early October we funded a flight for 63 of our rescues to various Shelters in the north-eastern United States. Since then, we’ve continued getting our dogs to no-kill shelters where they will have the best chance of finding their forever home and family: these include St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center; Last Chance Animal Rescue; Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation; Shadow Rose Farm; and Max’s Pet Connection.

 

In total, we’ve been able to fly 143 rescues to safety in the continental United States!

We’d like to thank all our supporters who have made these flights possible! We’d also like to thank those that continually care for our animals in between these flights. Thank you, all our volunteers and hard-working vets!

We cannot do it without your support!

 

Please stay tuned for more about the recovery of our structural damages; our rescues; and how you can help! We are committed to get as many pets as possible off the streets and into safe forever homes. Join us in our mission.

Amigos de los Animales relies on the continued support of donors like you!

Donate now and save lives!