Forever Loved has been partnering with Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico since 2014. This video shows the work Second Chance continually does on the island and how our partnership works.
Thank you for your support of rescue - we could not do it without you!
Dead Dog Beach - Just the Norm by Lindsey Phipps
Today an estimated 200,000 unwanted and abused Satos (Puerto Rican slang for
stray dog), roam the streets and beaches of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques.
More than 92% of all dogs picked up are euthanized, approximately 500 each and
every day. It has become standard for citizens of Puerto Rico and the
surrounding islands to see dog carcasses littering beaches and roadways. This is
how 'Dead Dog Beach,' a well-known dumping ground for dogs, gained its name.
The citizens that work to make a difference in the lives of these neglected
animals are few, and the support from the Puerto Rican government and its
citizens is close to non-existent. Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of
the United States, is an island located in the Caribbean. In 2012, the citizens
voted for the first time in history to become a state. This is still in progress
and doesn't mean that it's like the states. In fact, culturally, it is very
My husband and I recently traveled to Puerto Rico for our honeymoon. The
majestic beaches and the opportunity to experience new adventures, all with the
use of the American dollar, is what drew us there. Tourism is a huge industry in
Puerto Rico, and I hope to return to experience more of what it has to offer.
With that said, Puerto Rico has a major problem with abuse and abandonment of
pets. We saw this as soon as we headed to Ceiba to find our hotel on the first
night of our trip. Although, we didn't quite understand how extensive the
problem was until we visited Los Machos Beach a few days later.
When we pulled into Los Machos Beach, we saw at least 20 stray dogs, most of
which were puppies, and that was just in our general vicinity. Being animal
lovers, we were immediately drawn to giving them some attention. They were
allvery sweet and not only starving for food, but for some love as well. Many of
the puppies looked and acted very sick. We saw a dead dog rotting near a tree,
and before we left we had to shoo them out from under the rental car, where they
were escaping from the hot sun. We felt horrible leaving them there, but we felt
there was nothing we could do. As we left the beach, we saw a local woman
spreading dog food along the path for them.
Throughout our trip we continued to see starved, sick and injured dogs. When
we arrived home I started to do some research and found a documentary called,
"100,000." Everyone needs to watch this documentary to understand what is at the
root of this problem and how large it really is. After watching the documentary,
I had the opportunity to interview the director, Juan Marquez, about this
project. Mr. Marquez started this project with his wife and brother-in-law as a
result of a grant they were awarded. They felt that the problem of abandoned and
abused dogs is one in which citizens of Puerto Rico are "used to seeing."
Creating a documentary would bring this problem to the forefront and bring
awareness allacross Latin America. In 2009, when they started this movie, their
goal was to reach as many people as there were dogs on the street; at the time
that number was estimated to be 100,000.
Since then the documentary has been presented in fourteen different countries
and has received numerous awards, including an Emmy. 50,000 people have signed
The Pledge "to decrease the overpopulation problem and promote the proper care
of dogs..." What surprised them most about this project was that much of this
problem stems from a culture that prizes machismo. Mr. Marquez found that, "they
identify with the dogs testicles; this is very discouraging because it's not
just ignorance about spaying and neutering that stops them from doing it, they
just to refuse to do it." Mr. Marquez and his team completed a tour of twenty
schools, showing this documentary and discussing the problem with students, with
the goal to educate children about responsible pet ownership.
In Puerto Rico there is no government or private program that creates
awareness on a big scale, some smaller groups try to visit the schools and
communities because they want the kids to take home this awareness and tell
their parents about the importance of spaying and neutering. They want the kids
to tell their parents that animal abuse is not okay. As a result of this
documentary and the work of Mr. Marquez and his team to create awareness, the
Puerto Rican media is now interested in this problem.
While there is a long way to go in creating a permanent solution, support
from the local media is a big step forward. In addition to the abandonment of
pets, animal abuse is a huge issue here. Dogs are transported in trunks to be
abandoned at beaches, put in plastic bags and driven over, used for bullet
practice and rituals, tortured with machetes and arrows, buried alive, thrown in
dumpsters; the list is endless. In 2007, 80 dogs and cats were thrown over a
bridge alive. About six animals survived the 50 foot fall, and the perpetrators
were exonerated of what is now known as the Barceloneta Massacre. There are laws
that exist for animal abuse and abandonment, unfortunately, many citizens don't
know that they exist, or the government just does not prosecute. In the United
States, perpetrators of the Barceloneta Massacre would have not been exonerated.
They would have been held accountable and been made to undergo legal proceedings
with fines and/or jail time. Luckily, for some of these dogs that suffer from
abuse and abandonment, there is a dim light at the end of the tunnel.
Throughout Puerto Rico and Vieques there are a handful of organizations that
work 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year to make life better, or at
least tolerable for these animals. As a result of this hard work, many
volunteers suffer their own abuse and torment from citizens who disagree with
what they are doing. These organizations rescue the strays, vaccinate them,
provide them with veterinary care, bathe them, feed them, socialize them and
most importantly, show them love and compassion. If they can't find forever
homes for these animals, at the very least, these animals can die with dignity
at the shelter and not on the streets. Unfortunately, without the support of the
citizens of Puerto Rico and its government, these dedicated volunteers can only
make a small difference. On Vieques, there is one animal shelter that holds the
responsibility to help all the creatures of this small island, from dogs and
cats to the wild horses. Aleida Tolentino, the Shelter Manager, explains that
their goal is to "spay and neuter anything and everything they can get their
hands on." With the help of PetSmart, who provided a grant allowing them to
start a Spay/Neuter and Release Program for the stray dogs and cats and the
services of a veterinarian that comes in three times a week, they are able to
work toward this goal. Unfortunately this is a never ending battle. Many of the
citizens share the common belief that to spay or neuter a dog is punishment;
comparing it to the sterilization of people; "being pro-animal rights is letting
them reproduce, it's only natural" many say. Aleida does say that the problem
has improved over the last fewyears. More and more people are regularly
vaccinating their pets. They are taking better care of their animals, and some
are choosing to spay and neuter. However, as she states, "as long as someone is
breeding, the problem continues." She wants the United States to know that "this
(Puerto Rico) is a different culture. The U.S. is raised to love and respect
animals, here they are not part of the family for many pet owners.
We need help educating the children to respect and care for animals, explain
the benefits of spay and neuter and vaccinations." Puerto Rico will become a
state, so this becomes our problem too. We need to make changes happen in Puerto
Rico so that massive euthanasia isn't the only solution. Volunteer to be a pet
escort if you plan to travel to Puerto Rico, donate your frequent flier miles
for the transportation of pets to forever homes in the United States, donate
supplies, food and money to these organizations, send letters to Governor Luis
FortuÃ±o asking him to find humane solutions to these problems. Demand change
and be a voice for these animals.