How You Can Help Puerto Rican Dogs In Need

Stray Puppies on the Beach

There are a few non-profit organizations dedicated to ending the suffering of stray dogs in Puerto Rico. These strays (called satos by the locals) are in need of medical attention, food, water, and, more importantly, a loving home. Sometimes, that new home will be in the States, in which case tourists can help by escorting a dog on their plane ride home.

Anyone who had visited Puerto Rico has most certainly witnessed first-hand the horrible stray dog problem that we have. Though some low-cost sterilization for pets is available, many pet owners here do not see the need for the procedure. As a result, we have an over-abundance of pets roaming the streets searching for food, shelter, and a loving touch from a human.

Stray Puppies on the Beach

Luckily, these rescue groups provide medical services for these dogs, including sterilizations and vaccinations. Some have even broadened their programs to provide low-cost vaccination and sterilization services for all pets in Puerto Rico.

They are also beginning a public awareness program, which includes radio and television spots, to increase awareness of the cruelty imposed on these animals. They are preparing programs to take to the schools to educate children about animal cruelty and the ethical treatment of animals.

How You Can Help

  • As you can imagine, providing care for these animals does not come cheaply. Though a number of vets offer reduced rates to volunteers who rescue strays, spaying/neutering and vaccinations are not free. Donations of money, time, airline Frequent Flyer miles and/or supplies are always needed.
  • Write a letter to Puerto Rico Tourism Company about the horrible stray animal problem in Puerto Rico and insist they do something to help solve the problem. Tourists need to let them know seeing neglected and abused animals does affect their experience.

    Stray Puppy on the Beach

  • Spay and neuter your pets, and encourage others to do it also. In my opinion, this is the biggest/best solution to the problem! For PR dog owners, contact Island Dogs to get a certificate for low cost vaccinations and a spay/neuter for your pet.Pare Este and a few other organizations/vets also help with low cost spay/neuter.

  • Be a travel escort for dogs going off the island. If you are a traveler flying back to the States (usually east coast) from Puerto Rico, you may be able to help by being an dog escort (depending on where you are heading). Now with flights limiting animals in cargo, many of the rescue groups need dog “escorts”. You meet the rescue rep at the airport, they pay for the animal and hand it over, you carry it on the plane, it goes under your seat, you carry it off the plane and hand it to the rescue rep at the destination airport. Easy-peasy!. It is no cost to you and it gets another stray closer to its forever home and it saves a lot of money for the rescue organizations. Contact the organizations below for more information.
  • Adopt a stray instead of buying from a breeder. Look into Island Dog for adoptable dogs/puppies. I am sure the other group have plenty available for adoption also! Island dog has a great web page that has information about what you need to do to get your new family member home with you.

  • If you have the time and/or space, you can get more personally involved providing a foster home for animals while they are awaiting adoption. Or even just visit the shelters and lend a helping hand with walking, cleaning, and providing love! Please contact them for more information.

We know from experience that adopted strays make wonderful pets. We have 4 dogs and 2 cats – all adopted strays. You will see Coco, one of the satos we adopted here in Puerto Rico, in the photo above. We couldn’t ask for nicer, more loving pets. We only have so much room, otherwise we’d end up with many, many more. We’re suckers for a cold nose and big brown eyes.

Rescue sites

You can read more about each rescue group and what you can do or how to donate or adopt etc on their websites:

Stray Puppies on the Beach

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 11 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

Oh yes, Many of the dogs go to Boston. Wags 2 Riches Dog Rescue sends their dogs there. Contact them about 1 month ahead of your travels to see what their needs are. Thanks!

Comment by Gwenn on 26 Jul 2019

i will be traveling to Puerto Rico on vacation in January and may be interest in volunteering to transport a dog home with us. We will be flying to Boston. I was wondering if there would be a need to transport to Boston or is it only Newark and Ny?

Comment by maria blackburn on 25 Jul 2019

There are a few cat specific rescue groups (though the dog rescue groups will also help cats!). I know "Save a Gato" in Old San Juan and "Conversity Cats" in Luquillo. Thanks for wanting to help!

Comment by Gwenn on 15 Nov 2017

I'm very happy to see that dogs are getting some of the help that they need. But I'm concerned about stray cats that don't seem to get the attention they also desperately need. Is there any organization that is specifically caring for them? I'd like to donate to them, too.

Comment by Lanie M. on 05 Oct 2017

The list changes daily and there are many rescue groups. It would take a lot of work and coordination. Luckily, some airlines now offer a very reduced rate for the rescue animals to fly as cargo, so that is what most of the groups do now. Very few escorts needed.

Comment by Gwenn on 16 Feb 2017

It really seems like this escort service for dogs could be better organized with very little difficulty. [But things are always harder in reality than they seem at a superficial glance.] All it would take is having the shelters submit a list of dogs needing escort and volunteers submitting their names and availability. I think even I could organize such a service, and my mind is about as sharp as a pillow.

Comment by nancy albert on 16 Feb 2017

We aren't associated with any group, but I bet they can use some help. Save a Gato in OSJ always needs people to help with the cats. Travel escorts are not needed as often anymore, but sometimes it is an option. But you will need to contact the individual groups and see what their needs are. Thanks, the animals need as many people helping as possible!

Comment by Gwenn on 30 Sep 2016

I would like to volunteer at a shelter in San Juan if possible. My family travels in & out of the U.S. every month and could be a escort in moving Satos out of PR.

Comment by Tammy Steele on 18 Sep 2016

It usually takes a while to organize dog escorts. But you can try calling/contacting the rescue organizations directly and see if they have openings this week.

Comment by Gwenn on 17 Feb 2016

I'm in Puerto Rico and it just upsets me how much homeless dogs there are I would love to help as much as possible. I leave in 2days I would like to take a few with me he's my phone number xxx-xxxx

Comment by Christina Agramonte on 17 Feb 2016

I have worked in Puerto Rico doing animal rescue on several occasions in past years. As a result I am well aware of the conditions for the PR animals. It fills me with disgust. I have recently retired after 23 years service with Animal Control in British Columbia, Canada. Please advise if I can be of service to you in any respect.

Comment by Michael Tovey on 05 Nov 2014

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