In September 2017 after Hurricane Maria ripped the island to pieces our team flew out to Puerto Rico to help the thousands of animals left abandoned on the island in dire conditions. A desperate rescue mission, this gave us the opportunity to assess the situation on the ground – far worse than we could even have imagined – and formulate a plan of action to begin implementing lasting change.
In March 2018 we joined forces with ViDAS, a group comprised of veterinarians, veterinary students, technicians, and animal–loving volunteers, to hold our first mass sterilisation programme on the island. In spite of terrible conditions, very little local marketing opportunities, and even rolling power-cuts, we successfully sterilised over 1,000 animals in just six days.
The model was a real achievement; but if we hoped to make a significant enough dent in the rising problem, we knew we’d need more feet on the ground and greater funding. Fortunately, the success of our clinic attracted the interest of Humane Society US, leading to us forming a partnership with them and a coalition of organisations to roll out a wider mass-sterilisation initiative to the pets of Puerto Rico. Offering free sterilisation and vaccination services, our combined efforts have served to help the people of Puerto Rico keep their pets safe and prevent unwanted litters.
Alongside the sterilisation initiatives that we’ve implemented, Wild at Heart Foundation were responsible for the rescue of hundreds of dogs and puppies from Puerto Rico who would otherwise have been euthanised. Dumped at the clinic gates, these dogs had no hope of survival if we did not find them safe refuge. We worked hard to build a network of fosters on the island who could give these helpless animals somewhere safe to recover before they reached our friends of New York, where their second shot at a happy life can finally begin.