Recently, a team of animal welfare agencies joined forces to rescue homeless pets in Puerto Rico. After a severe natural disaster, thousands of pets, left homeless and in danger. The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) worked with North Fork Animal Welfare League (NFAWL), Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation and Kent Animal Shelter.
According to the NFAWL, the groups worked under the guidance of the Humane Society of the United States. To date, this is one of the biggest spay/neuter projects. The Spay-A-Thon is an event in Puerto Rico that takes place over the course of a few months. Dozens of animal charities work together to spay and neuter 30,000 owned and homeless animals.
According to Gillian Pultz, the executive director of NFAWL, many of the dogs roaming the streets still need placement. As a result, Pultz has helped lead the recovery wards with Veterinarios Internacionales Dedicados a Animales Sanos (ViDAS). ViDAS is famous for providing spay/neuter clinics to underprivileged areas. They were also one of the first groups to begin the rescue efforts after Hurricane Maria. Pultz said she was able to see the many issues faced by companion animals in Puerto Rico. She stated, “Groups from around the world are working together to prevent unwanted litters from being born, but we’re also working together to give animals fresh starts in loving homes whenever possible.”
Wild at Heart, a London-based Spay-A-Thon partner, contacted Pultz about some of the at-risk dogs. According to Pultz, dogs are being rescued from dangerous areas. After rescued, Wild at Heart is working on vetting the dogs. The organization offers short-term foster care. However, adoption opportunities are rare in Puerto Rico in the middle of Hurricane Maria.
The medical director of ARF, Dr. Christine Asaro, also stressed the importance of working together. She stated, “Working with ViDAS and being a participant in the Puerto Rico Spay-A-Thon for the first time was both humbling and gratifying. We are excited and looking forward to the combined efforts of our local organizations to help animals in need, namely those of Puerto Rico. Together we can achieve much more than if each of us acts alone.”
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Representatives from the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) also said that they found cooperation essential while saving the lives of pets on the street. Collaborating on the Spay-A-Thon is helping stop the issue at its source by reducing pet overpopulation. Kate McEntee, director of adoptions at SASF, said, “It’s also wonderful to save the animals in need when we can. The wonderful ability to work together has paved the way for these dogs to literally come off the streets, where life is tough and survival is not a given, to living in a home in the Hamptons.”
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
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