We are Fighting for the Dogs of Puerto Rico!

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On November 16th 2013 I am returning to the ring and will fight for the dogs of Puerto Rico. I was asked to be part of a huge fundraising Boxing event organized by Fighters4Life.

The Sato Project will be one of the beneficiaries of the proceeds of the night and I could not turn down the opportunity to bring greater awareness to our work and hopefully raise a lot of money!

This is my first fight in almost 3 years. I had not worked out in over a year. To tell you the truth training has been really, really hard. I had to make weight – which meant losing 12lbs.  Sparring has been tough.  This is a difficult path I am taking and I have been very lucky to have some amazing people by my side.  Michael Feigin is my ‘Guru’ and owner of The Fitness Guru in Brooklyn, NY.

Michael is an incredible motivator – which I really need at 6am in the morning whilst trying to get through one of his Boot Camps.  He is very tough, has remarkable knowledge but best of all he makes training fun.

My boxing coaches, Don and Martin are all business.  They work out of my second home, the World Famous Gleason’s Boxing Gym.

They have pushed me harder than I thought I could endure.  And they constantly remind me why I am doing this – for the dogs.  Bethany, Hope, Samlee, Gaia – all of them are with me. When I run I think of them… my legs are tired, my chest hurts – did Hope give up? When her hips were broken and her pelvis was crushed did she lie down and die? No that little puppy wobbled to her feet and she walked. Hope fought and she survived. So I think of Hope and I can run that extra mile.

Fighters4Life

 

When I’m sparring and taking heavy punches; my arms are so weary that they won’t stay up and my legs are like lead then I think of Samlee… Samlee laid on a step for three days with her eye hanging out. I think of her courage and her will to live. I am fighting 4 x 2 minute rounds. Samlee fought for three days. So I think of her and I can keep on punching. I fight for them. I take each and every one of them into the ring with me. They are my inspiration.

 

We have entered our busiest rescue period – November through to the end of January is unfortunately prime dumping season on the beach.  When the holidays begin and dogs are being driven to the beach and left – in droves. Our vet Bianca has been working hard to get as many of the dogs in our program ready for travel by the end of this month – we have 30 in Puerto Rico at this time. That way we can enter the busiest period of the year for The Sato Project with empty kennels.

I am thrilled to be joined in this mission by two great friends, Grace Baley and Anjali Lewis. They made the commitment to box as well; this will be Grace’s second fight and Anjali’s first!  Their support and cheerleading has been wonderful.  I am so proud to stand next to such fabulous, fearless females.  All three of us will box as Team Sato Project.

Our team is fighting to raise enough money so we have don’t have to worry about funding during our busiest time. So please share this post and donate!

My name is Chrissy Beckles and along with Grace Baley and Anjali Lewis we will fight for the dogs of Puerto Rico. I hope you will all be in our corner.

Open Letter - For Gaia

 

This is an open letter to the person or persons who dumped this dog on Dead Dog Beach on July 24th, 2013. This post is NOT a forum for hateful messages or derogatory comments. I am very serious. I’m doing this because if I don’t get these frustrations out then I’m going to explode. And that doesn’t help anyone especially the doggies. I encourage you all to share this post in the hope it can go viral – people need to know what we do.

Dear Sir/Madam,

You dumped your beautiful dog on Dead Dog Beach this afternoon in a crate with a towel. I believe you left her there like a piece of trash because you knew we would rescue her.

 

For some unexplainable reason you chose to dump her instead of taking her to a vet where she should have received urgent medical attention. But you know the time for a vet was long ago and your dog had passed the point of no return. Her body was broken inside and out. Your dog had distemper. These things do not happen overnight – her injuries and illness took time.

 

You must have watched her suffering and for some reason decided today was her day. Maybe you were going somewhere to celebrate Constitution of Puerto Rico Day tomorrow and your dog was an inconvenience. You chose today. Maybe you read our page and follow our posts and thought ‘The Sato Project will take care of her – that’s what they do.


You probably think we have an unlimited bank account, empty vet clinic and the emotional constitution of a rock; that is we don’t feel. Let me explain to you how your cowardly actions affect our team.


Ivette, our beach coordinator is usually the person who makes the discovery. Ivette is a schoolteacher in your community. Maybe you were a pupil at her school or your children are. Ivette found your dog and then calls me, Chrissy. As Ivette is talking to me through her tears she is trying to give the dog food and water; both of which are refused.


I am sat in upstate New York with a feeling of anger and hopelessness as I look at photographs of your dog in her crate on the beach. Our program is full, there is no room in the vet clinic and our vet bills are astronomical. But I refuse to make a decision based on those things. We are rescuing your dog and I call our vet, Dr. Aguirre Hernandez.


Dr. Aguirre-Hernandez tells me to get the dog there immediately. At this point we only know she cannot walk, and will not eat or drink. Her stomach is swollen and distended – could she be pregnant?


Ivette takes the dog to Bianca and she is assessed. We give her a name, Gaia, which means Goddess of Earth. Gaia is beautiful. All the vet techs and assistants at the clinic see Gaia and are horrified. Bianca calls me to give me her diagnosis. Your dog is crippled from IVDD (Intervertebral disc disease) it is severe and would require emergency surgery. But you already knew that.

 

Your dog has distemper and is showing neurologic signs – painfully obvious signs. Her bladder is swollen and she is incontinent. Probably another reason for dumping her. We cannot operate on a dog with distemper especially an advanced case. So her prognosis is very grim.

 

But you already knew that. You allowed your dog to suffer excruciating pain and discomfort. Bianca tells me there is nothing that we can do for Gaia except humanely end her suffering.

 

I am sure you knew that when you took the time to drive her the couple of miles from any kind of housing or civilization and dump her at the beach. I wonder what you were thinking? Did you cry? Did you say goodbye to your dog? Or just toss her out like garbage?

 

There is a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You decided your dog was trash but we all treasured her.

 

We only knew Gaia for a couple of hours but I can assure you that she knew more love and kindness in those fleeting minutes than in her sad lifetime with you.

 

Gaia was finally given her dignity and relieved of her immense suffering. I have to make that final decision and it never, ever gets easier. I cry every single time and I am haunted by each of those that I feel we failed. I will never forget the image of Gaia lying pitifully in her crate with her eyes pleading for an end to her nightmare.


Our team is upset and angry. As you enjoy your holiday tomorrow we will still be thinking of Gaia. She will never be forgotten.

 

I really believe deep down in my heart that you are going to read this. I could call you every name under the sun and threaten you but you are not worth it. I refuse to waste time and energy hating you.


You are weak where we are strong. You are cruel where we are compassionate. What you did was immoral, it was brutal and it was on a horrific scale. But you already know that. You are the one who has to live with your actions and look at yourself in the mirror knowing what you did.


We have enough love and courage in our hearts to continue our work after the depravity we witnessed today and we can do it with our heads held high. May you rot in hell.

After Chrissy Beckles posted this letter to our Facebook page, it went viral. On July 30th, 2013, she posted this follow-up:

Gaia Update! I wanted to thank everyone has commented, shared and ‘liked’ our post about Gaia. This beautiful angel has affected many people – over 360,000 of you have seen the post and well over 5000 people shared it. Everyone (with the exception of one or two) kept their comments respectful as requested and I was humbled to receive many direct messages and phone calls as well. Many of you donated to The Sato Project after you read my letter. Please know that your donations will go toward our work helping the dogs on Dead Dog Beach and we thank you for them. We will definitely be honoring this beautiful girl in a special way.

Gaia continues to touch people. I received some incredible news today – Primera Hora (the major tabloid newspaper of Puerto Rico) will be doing a story about Gaia and they will be translating the letter I wrote (verbatim) into Spanish for all their readers to see. The piece should run this coming weekend (August 3rd).

I really felt in my heart that the person who dumped Gaia would read my letter. It seems now that it is a real possibility. But reaching that one person is no longer important. I want people to read and think,

‘I would NEVER do that to my dog’

I want to start a movement. If my letter makes just ONE person treat their dog differently; give their dog love and respect, get their dog vaccinated, spayed or neutered, get their dog regular care from a licensed Veterinarian, keep their dog safe and not allow them to just wander the street. If just ONE person changes how they treat their dog then Gaia did not suffer and she did not die in vain – because Gaia, the Goddess of Earth has already saved another and hopefully another after that…..

Gaia now has a legacy and she will run free, loved and cherished forever.

 

Catching Up With Nadya

Nadya is a little Chihuahua mix female who was part of Martha Stewart’s pack on Dead Dog Beach. On the beach, Nadya was so skittish and scared I could never capture a good photo of her! Here she is, the little dark shadow following Bo and Martha everywhere. Those three were extremely bonded.

Chrissy and I spent countless hours trying to socialize with the entire pack… Mostly in vain, until Bianca managed to catch Julia (whose puppies made it to the Puppy Bowl, remember?). Unfortunately, Bo and Martha died on the beach before we could rescue them. Chrissy and I were heartbroken. And we knew that without her pack Nadya was alone to fend for herself. One of her back leg seemed broken or underdeveloped, which made her even more exposed to abuse.

Suddenly, she started bonding with one of the local fishermen who ultimately helped our team rescue Nadya. This is a photo of them hanging out on the beach.

After her stay at our vet’s office, she flew to New York and got adopted by a lovely family in Manhattan. I was really wondering how she was going to adjust to city life, and to being surrounded by people.

Last Sunday Nadya, now called Lea, came to my studio with her mom Nicole, for her official Sato Project headshot. After a few minutes of gauging me, she starting warming up as I handed her treats. I asked Nicole how Lea was adjusting to her new life, and she shared the most precious stories with me. Lea is still shy with people, but she does this funny thing: she will maintain a deep, sustained eye contact with whomever she meets. Most people think she is asking for attention, but as soon as you approach your hand she shies away. Lea looked deep in my eyes. Those eyes are saying so much. It’s quite something… Lea is still afraid of men, like many satos who’ve suffered abuse, but she is working hard at becoming Nicole’s husband best friend! Lea is clearly very bonded with Nicole. When she finds a chicken bone on the street, instead of eating it she brings it to Nicole. She also shares toys and treats with her new mom. The cutest story Nicole shared with me is this one: Lea loves “burying” treats in a blanket that’s on the family couch. She digs around like she is still on the beach, pushing the sand with her nose. Nicole captured it in this sweet video. We are very proud of Nadya/Lea, and how far she’s come! That kind of happy ending fuels our work.

Sophie Gamand

The Sato Project Receives a Grant from the Petco Foundation

We applied to the Petco Foundation to help us with a rescue effort that we wanted to launch on a beach neighboring Dead Dog Beach: Playa Guayanes.

The dynamic at Guayanes Beach is very different from that at Dead Dog Beach. It is is a small residential area for one. The local people take great pride in their beach and have organized groups who go and clean up on a weekly basis. There are approximately 20 dogs at any one time that call the area home. It is not a dumping ground for dogs like Dead Dog Beach – you cannot be anonymous here. The residents notice new cars and people. The Sato Project has been welcomed by the community – when we first started feeding the dogs on that beach almost a year ago people thanked us and told us about some of the characters.

We have been slowly taking dogs from Guayanes as funds and space allowed – but our main focus remains on Dead Dog Beach. Many at Guayanes were gravely injured ; Disco was our first rescue – he had a severely injured penis that could not retract and had become a life threatening condition for him. He was also heartworm positive and had a previously broken front leg that had healed on it’s own. Indy (now Amelia) was our next – her fur was matted and her teeth were broken from chewing on rocks to abate hunger… Sandy had a severe TVT (transmissible venerial tumor) and was in heat. When we first saw her she was being chased by a pack of male dogs. Raphael came next – he could not walk when we rescued him. The little Ewok pups came from Guayanes and our hearts broke when we took Naomi from there. Read Rafael, the Ewok and Naomi’s stories here.

During our last visit to PR we took two dogs off Guayanes Beach. They are our first “PetCo grant dogs”!

Jasper was a beautiful little boy with patches of fur that had been ripped from his body. He was obviously being ‘bullied’ by the other dogs and was heartbreakingly skinny. His fluffy coat disguised just how thin he really was… when Sophie picked him up she gasped in horror – she could feel every bone in his tiny frame. Jasper would stand by politely when the other dogs ate as if to say:

“Please Sir may I have some more?” “Excuse-me, Sir, would you mind not stepping on my tail, please?“

We just could not leave him. In hindsight we maybe should have called him Oliver…

And then there was Samlee – the tiny little pup we rescued with her eye hanging out after being attacked by another dog (read her story here) We had to remove her eye and it turns out this poor angel is blind.

We are aiming to take another 15-18 dogs from Guayanes beach. The final number will be determined by the condition of each inpidual dog and any sickness or injuries.

The Guayanes dogs will go through our incredibly extensive vetting protocol, be vaccinated and spayed or neutered before coming to the US for adoption. Bianca is compiling a very detailed study on these dogs which we hope will be used as a teaching tool at the Collegio de Veterinario in Puerto Rico.

Sophie is documenting each rescue with photos and film.

We want to thank our friends at the Petco Foundation for this very generous grant to help us aide these dogs and we look forward to sharing more of the Guayanes beach project with you all!!