Animal Humane Group Provides Care To Puerto Rico’s Stray Dogs

beachdog.jpgWhen Ginny Cornett visited Puerto Rico in the summer of 2005, she encountered a population of sad, sick, emaciated dogs roaming the beach near Yabucoa. Nicknamed “Dead Dog Beach”, the place is a dumping ground for unwanted canines. She was working in the area for only a few short days each month, but spent a few minutes in the mornings petting them and speaking kindly to them, hoping to convey a message of hope. She made several visits to that beach and finally in June 2006, Manos por Patas (Hands for Paws) was launched.

The project began as a way to feed and provide triage medical care for severely injured and ill animals, but grew into a multi-program effort to change the paths for future animals on that beach and on the entire island of Puerto Rico. Cornett sent out a simple email to friends and family with a description of what she had seen and some pictures of the dogs there. The response was overwhelming, and soon she was able to set up the first sterilization “round up”. Dr. Gwen Davis of PAWS (Puerto Rican Animal Welfare Society) went to Yabucoa and provided sterilizations and rabies vaccinations for as many animals as they could round up. Then came more help from two area veterinarians who agreed to provide reduced cost services to rescuers in the area to continue the sterilizations, further reducing future populations of miserable, suffering dogs.

In addition to population control, Manos por Patas is on a mission to bring humane animal care and shelter practices to the island. Beyond spaying and neutering of the “satos” (mixed breed stray dogs), they want to provide a shelter building and fenced grounds area to protect the dogs from weather as well as from individuals who would harm them. They want to provide on-site medical care for satos throughout Puerto Rico including vaccinations, treatment for heartworm, treatment for internal and external parasites, and other medical care as necessary. They want to increase public awareness about spaying and neutering and provide education in the schools to teach against animal cruelty and about Law 67 which makes cruelty towards animals a crime.

Lastly, and most controversially, Manos por Patas places adoptable animals in U.S. shelters for adoption.

According to a recent news article, hundreds of abandoned dogs are being flown to the U.S., and satos are becoming of a trendy souvenir of trips to the Caribbean. Critics say the canine airlift does little to reduce the problem of stray dogs in Puerto Rico and ends up fueling overcrowding at the U.S. shelters, where many of the dogs inevitably end up. The Humane Society discourages such measures and instead wants Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean to develop their own animal welfare programs.

Source: Manos por Patas

(Thanks Sunshine49)

10 Responses to “Animal Humane Group Provides Care To Puerto Rico’s Stray Dogs”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful cause for the poor abandoned canines and any little puppies who would be born into such a horrible and neglected life. Those poor starving doggies who were dumped needed an angel like Ginny Cornett to desend and heap love and care upon them. Thank God for you Ginny and other people who have helped these orphaned fur babies.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Many kudos to Ms. Cornett and Dr. Davis and other vets for volunteering! However, I have to agree, with reservation, with the Humane Society this time. The main land’s animal shelters are already facing overcrowding. Some shelters are making spaces for more animals by killing others. Taking in more abandoned ones will most likely pressure the kill shelters to hurry their deeds.

  3. Christine says:

    This is a great thing. From my experience, these dogs aren’t overcrowding already full shelters, but are instead bringing dogs to places where there aren’t many for adoption. In MA, they don’t have a lot of abandoned dogs (cats, yes). A former roommate spent six months looking for a dog to be a playmate for the one she already had. When she finally found one, the dog had been flown in from Puerto Rico. The shelters in the area also bring up “Dixie Dogs” from the southern states where overpopulation, abandonment, and euthanization is a problem. Either way is great.

  4. catmom5 says:

    This was similar to the situation I encountered on Tahiti and neighboring islands in the South Pacific. These poor animals are in need of so much. I tried to get vet care for one in particular who had been attacked by others and had an ear dangling and blood dripping down her neck. However, there was NO ONE who would even see her. When I tried to find a way to get her back to the USA for care I was told that they will not allow their animals to be removed from the islands and taken to other places. (I was on a cruise at the time so couldn’t do much of anything.) I hope and pray that this situation is changing for all these lost and abandoned creatures who are simply trying to survive.

  5. RUFF McGruff says:

    This story reminds me of a movie that I saw last June called Sun dogs. I saw it at Cinevegas and it has stuck with me since then as such an inspiring movie , especially for dog lovers. The film is a documentary about the first ever Jamaican dogsled team. In the movie they take dogs from shelters around Jamaica and give them a chance at a new life. These dogs, just like the ones in this story about Puerto Rico, had no homes and were most certainly on the verge of euthanization. Joining this team gave them a second chance and they all look so happy to be on the team running together. I suggest everyone check it out if they’re looking for a film that finally cares about dogs.

  6. trucorgi says:

    I became aware of this trend during the California MNS debate. Everyone should take a look at the big picture on this before they decide it’s a great idea. Keep in mind that Newkirk has said that if Americans are to have pets they MUST be refugees from animal shelters and the streets. Peta supports this HSUS does not. They don’t often disagree so this should be a red flag. This has been going on for a couple of years now and it is estimated that already 14,000 imported strays are coming into our shelters from groups like this. That’s a lot of dogs. Most are young or puppies. At the same time animals rights activists are working very hard to outlaw all hobby breeding in the US. They will tell you that every puppy bred by a responsible breeder takes away a home and condemns a shelter dog to death. When asked if importing strays from foreign countries has an effect on “over population”, they will tell you it does not.

    Let me just say that I support helping Puerto Rico or anyone else. That help should be to feed, provide medical care, sterilization, vaccines, training, public ed, even building adequate shelters (and God knows Peta could do that if they wanted to), not importing these animals so that the US shelters can operate as publicly funded pet stores. Shouldn’t we all be happy when our shelters are empty? In certain areas shelters will not allow small dogs to even go into foster care or the rescue program of their breed because they want them in the shelter saying they are easy to place.

  7. pat says:

    trucorgi, i respect your point of view, but Puerto Rico isn’t a foreign country, it’s a US territory, and i feel that the animals there deserve our help. i have to admit that i don’t understand the politics of animal rescue and shelter. i don’t know who the individual leaders are and i don’t know where each organization stands on all the issues. i understand only the look of desperation in the eyes of these dogs.

  8. Christina says:

    I applaude the efforts of anyone who is willing to help animals who are so obviously and desperately in need of care-you are the true heroes in my mind. Unfortunately these dogs are born into situations where poverty and corruption run hand in hand. They pay the ultimate price for this world being overpopulated with people, some of which care more about individual power than individuals. Ultimately Puerto Rico and other islands need their own animal shelters staffed with people who can care for the animals, not just kill them. How can we make this happen? One person doing something courageous, like Ginny, each one of us can reach out and help. If enough of us do that , then change becomes imminent.
    Please reach out to your nearest shelter and offer to help in any way possible. Visit and tell the governor of Puerto Rico that you will NOT give him your tourist dollars until something is done to help the THOUSANDS of dogs currently suffering on HIS island. We all can do something.

  9. barb schultz says:

    I just came back from a rescue mission {3 puppies) from st croix and next year I hope to do Pueerto Rico! God Bless Richly the people of save a sato I know a few of them and tyhey do a wonderful job so PLEASE support them financially the more money, the more they can do Thank You Barb Schultz of Pgh Pa

  10. Dineace says:

    I’ve been there to witness it first hand. It’s horrid. We spent 3 years there and the deplorable conditions of these animals was enough to turn my stomach. I’ve met Gwen Davis and she is an excellent human being. She’s volunteered alot of time and care to these animals and this was looong before this article was published. I was lucky enough to foster a few dogs while there. It’s a very gratifying experience. If shelters(continental U.S) are accepting these animals they are doing a service to animal kind. They aren’t forced to accept them. I have two of these dogs myself, brought back from our 3 year tour(foster dogs that were not placed before we left). They are the BEST dogs we’ve ever had. And they’ve been with us more than 7 years now. The stray animal population on the island is the worst I’ve seen in my travels (as far as the continental U.S. is concerned) I don’t want to see the other islands. It’s too heartbreaking.
    Dineace M

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