The Sato Project has rescued hundreds of dogs, each one with a special story. But there are always the ones that will remain with you forever . . . .
We rescued Victor Amor on Mothering Sunday, May 12th, 2014. We consider Victor Amor our greatest triumph to date. This video tells his story:
Hope was rescued as a tiny 6 lb puppy from Dead Dog Beach on January 13th, 2013, with horrific injuries. Her little body had literally been crushed, and she had two dislocated hips, a fractured pelvis and a perforated bladder. We were horrified to learn that her injuries were not consistent with being hit by a car – they were likely caused by the hand of man. Our wonderful veterinarian in Puerto Rico, Dr. Bianca Aguirre Hernandez, had to perform emergency surgery to save Hope's life. Hope began her rehabilitation and 3 weeks later we received the devastating news that Hope had caught canine parvovirus. This terrible disease has a mortality rate of 91% in untreated cases. Dr. Aguirre treated Hope aggressively around the clock and refused to leave her side. Our entire organization and Hope’s fast growing fan base held their breath. Hope survived.
Hope traveled to New York in March with The Sato Project's Founder and President Chrissy Beckles to complete her rehabilitation. Hope required extensive, specialist surgery to allow her continued use of her back legs. Hope had bilateral femoral ostectomy surgery on April 4th. The procedure is not usually performed on both legs at once and is extremely rare in a puppy so young. Hope amazed her surgeons by walking 30 minutes after coming around from anesthesia. She went home with Chrissy the next day with 10 staples in each leg. Hope’s real fight was only just beginning. She was prescribed an intense schedule of therapy to strengthen her legs and keep her walking. Hope began water therapy twice a week and accompanied Chrissy to her boxing training sessions at the World Famous Gleason’s Gym. Hope would walk with Chrissy on the treadmill to the cheers of all the hardened fighters. Hope completed her therapy like a champion and was ready for her forever home. Chrissy, her husband Bobby and their two dogs, Basher and Boom Boom had fallen in love with Hope. Only the most spectacular person would be allowed to adopt her. Then Hope met Grace and it was love at first sight. Tears flowed as Hope made her own decision – she sat in Grace’s lap and snuggled up as if she had been there forever. Grace promised that Hope would be the most loved and cherished dog ever – and she is. Grace is the Founder of Design*Sponge design blog and an author. Hope now spends her days sunning herself on various comfy chairs and gorgeous rugs and of course a plethora of fabulous dog beds at the Design*Sponge offices, where she accompanies her Mum, Grace to work every day.
Hope’s rescue, care, surgeries and rehabilitation cost The Sato Project over $10,000 - the most expensive dog that we have ever rescued. But seeing her run, jump, play, oh yes and sleep is worth every single penny. Hope’s sheer will to survive, to live and to love will always inspire us to go back for the next one.
On the evening of May 3rd, 2013 we were working on Guayanes Beach, Puerto Rico. This is a new locale for The Sato Project and was made possible by a generous grant from the Petco Foundation. We spotted a tiny puppy on the steps leading to a bodega where a group of people were hanging out and enjoying the evening. The puppy was motionless and emaciated. Upon closer inspection she was still alive but her right eye had swollen completely out of its socket. The entire eyeball was rotting. It was horrific. We scooped her up and asked the people next to her how long she had been there. We were told she appeared 3 days ago with some siblings and was in that condition when she arrived. These people were upset at her condition, but unfortunately they have seen it so often that they have become accustomed to it. Still, they were grateful we could rescue the puppy and take care of her.
We took the puppy home and cleaned her up as best we could. Her eye was a nightmare. She ate turkey and amazingly wagged her tail. She tried to settle and was obviously in horrendous pain – her whining and moaning were heartbreaking. She seemed to be completely blind and possibly deaf – or was it because she was in such pain her senses had shut down? She seemed to only be responding to “kissing” sounds.
We named her Samlee after Samuel L Jackson, for his character in the Iron Man Series, Nick Fury, who wears an eye patch. Samlee needed a badass name for she had a great fight ahead of her.
We were at our vet’s clinic by 8am. Samlee was prepped for surgery. She was going to lose her right eye. Our vet told us that had she been brought to the clinic 3 days earlier - when she had shown up on the beach - her eye could have probably been saved. During the surgery we discovered what had caused the injury: another dog had apparently attacked Samlee – there were several bite marks on her face and a deep laceration on her neck.
Once Samlee was ready to travel, Chrissy fostered her in New York. Thanks to a medical treatment, she seemed to slowly regain a bit of sight in her left eye. Regardless of her limited sight, Samlee never stopped to be this amazing dog who would find her way around a new place in a heartbeat, and who learned to play fetch, all this while never stopping to wag her tail.
An amazing couple that already had a rescue from Puerto Rico adopted Samlee. Samlee met her Puerto Rican ‘cousin’ Georgia and they became instant best friends. Their favorite pastimes are wrestling and destroying fluffy toys…
A kind citizen, Luis, found Sandy Luisa lying in the road. Her body was emaciated and covered in sores, her hair was missing and she did not have the strength to stand. Luis thought she was dead. As he approached her he saw a faint tail wag and knew he had to help her. Luis was a man of very limited means but with a knowledge of dogs and a huge heart. He took her to the home where he was staying and started to care for her as best he could. He went to the local agriculture store to buy ivomectin and medicated shampoo to bathe her. He named her Sandy.
We were staying at the house next door to Luis. When loud barking awoke us late one night we peeked through the window to see where it was coming from but could see no dog. We were concerned. The property next door was usually empty and we thought that maybe a dog had become trapped there, or even worse, dumped there. The next morning we looked out of the window again and saw Luis washing Sandy Luisa. Her condition was so horrific that we raced downstairs to go and see what her story was.
We introduced ourselves to Luis and asked him about his dog. He told us that he had found her two weeks ago and her condition was much better now. Luis obviously cared for her very much and she adored him. He had taught her commands and Sandy never left his side. Luis was worried what would become of Sandy when he had to leave in a few days to visit his family in the US. The Sato Project received a grant from the Petco Foundation to start work on Guayanes Beach. We had been doing our best to educate the local community about our work and Sandy was the perfect case to show how we could help and give options to those that cared about the animals around them. We told Luis we could take Sandy into our program and that she would be cared for by a licensed Veterinarian, given the necessary vetting and vaccines and then spayed before flying to New York to look for her forever home. It was incredibly humbling to see a grown man weep as he handed over his best friend. Luis had trusted us with Sandy and we added his name to hers so he would always be remembered.
Sandy Luisa was in our care for 3.5 months. Our vet, Bianca worked miracles on her and she blossomed back into the beautiful Golden Retriever she was born to be. Sandy Luisa flew to New York in May and was immediately adopted by a widowed gentleman from Cape Cod whose daughter had already adopted another of our dogs.
Sandy Luisa now spends her days running on the beach and being spoiled. And her beauty always draws gasps of admiration.