It was not a normal flight. When they opened the door of the two planes that landed Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, the protagonists were more than 200 dogs rescued from shelters from Puerto Rico to find a new home in states like Florida, North Carolina and New York.
The rescued dogs were treated by veterinarians before being transferred to the San Juan airport in the aircraft in an operation called ‘Grey Muzzle’ (Muzzle Gray) that was led by the organizations Wings of Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States, Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team, among others.
The majority were taken to foster families in states like North Carolina and New York, while several of them as now remain in several shelters in Broward county awaiting a new family.
Puerto Rico has struggled against the overpopulation of dogs for years due to various factors, such as shelter with little funding and low rates of sterilization.
“The shelters of Puerto Rico do not have another option. Run out of space and unfortunately have to sacrifice animals in order to have more space. It is heartbreaking for the team, and devastating, because those animals could be adopted,” said Kimberly Alboum, the humane Society of the united States.
A sector of the coast near the town of Yabucoa, which was made famous by the number of abandoned and abused dogs became known as “Dead Dog Beach”.
Several activist groups have been working on the problem and was told that there are signs of improvement. Christina Beckles, founder of the Project Sato with headquarters on the island, said that there are fewer dogs that end up on the beach due to a campaign to sterilize in Yabucoa.
But the economic crisis that has affected the island has led many residents to abandon their homes and leave their pets.
“In Puerto Rico, there are more stray dogs than people. The island has no laws of sterilization and shelters will apply the euthanasia to the 92% of the animals they receive,” said the organization Wings of Rescue.
The centres of adoption in Broward where they were brought some of the dogs are: Big Dog Ranch Rescue, The Humane Society of Broward County, The Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, The Humane Society Naples and Florida Tri-County Animal Rescue.