Mission possible 8

Biggest. Transport. Ever.

Mission Complete! On August 23,  2017 The Sato Project, the Humane Society of the United States, and Wings of Rescue sent 205 dogs on their Freedom Flights from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to the mainland United States. This life-saving mission was the result of an incredible team effort and collaboration. The Sato Project led the transport perparations and pulled and vetted dogs from local shelters in Puerto Rico to prepare them for this epic journey. The focus of this special mission was on senior and adult dogs. The shelter system in Puerto Rico is completely overwhelmed and has over a 90% euthanasia rate on average. The dogs selected for Mission Possible 8 were all those who were not deemed candidates for adoption, due to their age or minor medical conditions. Without this life-saving opportunity, these dogs would have been euthanized.

Just after midnight on Aug 24, the final 70 dogs arrived at the Monmouth County SPCA and were greeted with cheers and tears from an incredible group of staff and volunteers from The Sato Project, Monmouth County SPCA, Animal Haven, and the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. Please view the slideshow below for a glimpse of some great photos from this night. It had been an very long journey for these dogs but they were wonderfully cared for at every step of the transport. We want to give a special thank you to Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team who drove these pups very carefully in their wonderful van, from Raleigh NC up to MCSPCA. 

Many of the dogs who just underwent this incredible journey are now experiencing for the first time in their lives (and the others will very soon) what it's like to lay on a cozy soft bed in someone's living room. To sleep in the peace and quiet of a home. To lay in the grass in a safe backyard. They have a wonderful future ahead of them, thanks to the caring compassion of thousands of people who supported this team effort. Thank you all for giving them the chance they all deserve. 

Photo credits: Monmouth County SPCA

June 30th Rescue Mission:  Capitán Correa Shelter in Arecibo

by Caroline Warren

It was noon on a hot Wednesday afternoon when we drove into the Capitán Correa shelter in Arecibo. Six women and myself comprised the rescue group for that day, and we had a plan to pull 19 dogs to safety. Only 19. When we arrived, I had no idea what to expect. I had been involved in animal rescue with my mother since I was a young girl, supporting a wide variety of animal shelters from the deep southern United States to a remote shelter in Thailand. I had followed The Sato Project for many years and despite having seen the pictures and having read Chrissy’s posts, I assumed that the Arecibo shelter would be quite similar to the others. But it turned out that I was in no way prepared for what we experienced that day.             

It is difficult for me to paint a picture of what I saw as I walked through the intake area of the shelter. I cannot emphasize enough when I say that nearly every dog in Arecibo would be incredibly adoptable in the United States. There was even one pup that appeared as though she could very well be a purebred Golden Retriever. Most dogs looked miserable, as they huddled in a cramped space. Some had nearly surrendered their bodies to death. Then there were those who took a different approach and “put on a face” for us as if they realized what we were there to do, comprehending that we could potentially save their life. One mama dog in particular followed us with her eyes as we walked past her cage, seeming to scream, “Take me and my five puppies, PLEASE” (we did). One cat clung to the metal of the cage with the biggest, most petrified eyes I have ever seen. To witness this extreme anguish from such helpless animals . . . I could not hold it together.

The staff at the shelter are operating with very limited resources to keep up with the daily flood of animals they receive. Even though we were only at the shelter for about two hours, we saw three separate cars pull up to abandon their “beloved” animals. One of the cars quickly dumped their two dogs and cat without as much as a goodbye. Following these three cars was the local dog catcher bringing in the days’ worth of captured street dogs. It was then that I remembered the golden number: 19. Only 19. I sound so childish when I say this but I became truly desperate . . . bartering with God desperate . . . to take them all. Why would some deserve to live while others would not? And why was I among the individuals given the right to hand-pick the survivors? I’m a 21-year-old recent college graduate from Connecticut, and it made me feel very uncomfortable to have this type of power.

At the end of the day, we assembled all the crates we could get our hands on and left Arecibo with 27 amazing dogs. Not surprisingly, one of those 27 beautiful creatures will become a member of my family. My mother and I decided to adopt the very last dog that we pulled that day as she reached her mange-ridden paw out to us through the cage bars.

So yes, I am delighted that 27 dogs who never would have remotely had a chance will be on their way to an extraordinary life in the United States. But I cannot erase from my mind what I saw, and the lives that we left behind will forever be embedded into my conscience. I urge anyone reading this to educate yourself and understand the Puerto Rico animal crisis. It was without a doubt the most eye-opening experience of my life, and I now feel even more passionate about devoting my time and my resources to The Sato Project.  

For those of you who cannot travel to Puerto Rico, I implore you to do your best to help one animal in need to honor the lives of all those languishing at the shelters there. One way you can do this is by supporting The Sato Project in Mission Possible 8. Next month 205 dogs from shelters like the one in Arecibo will have the chance to start a new life. (More information on how to donate to this incredible undertaking will be available soon). While we cannot save them all, we must remember and recognize each dog’s small yet meaningful contribution to this seemingly unjust universe.

Caroline telling all the dogs we had just pulled from the shelter how amazing their lives are going to be! 

Caroline telling all the dogs we had just pulled from the shelter how amazing their lives are going to be!