In September 2017, the category 5 Hurricane Maria devastated the archipelago of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Millions lost power, and with a slow recovery, Hunter College in New York estimates the population of Puerto Rico will drop around 14% in 2019.
Many Puerto Ricans had to leave their pets behind to evacuate, and several of those who remained couldn’t afford to care for their pets.
“It was devastating seeing so many dogs and cats without food, without shelter,” says Ivelisse Sanchez, a dog owner in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Sanchez says she treats her dog like part of the family.
That’s why the Humane Society of the United States partnered with over two dozen organizations for Spayathon for Puerto Rico, according to Kirsten Peek, a representative for the American nonprofit.
A historic mssion
Spayathon for Puerto Rico is a coalition of 26 national and international groups coming together for the first time to spay, neuter and vaccinate more than 25,000 dogs and cats across Puerto Rico, says Peek, who calls it a “historic effort.” The Humane Society of the United States, the Puerto Rico government, and the Veterinary Association and Veterinary Board all participate in this unprecedented collaboration to help spay and neuter pets.
“More than a year has passed since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. We are proud to continue to make a difference in the lives of Puerto Rico animals and the people who love them though Spayathon,” says Tara Loller, senior director of Strategic Campaigns and Initiatives for the Humane Society of the United States.
The game plan
During round one of Spayathon for Puerto Rico in June 2018, more than 5,600 pets were spayed/neutered and vaccinated, says Peek. In round two in November, more than 8,000 dogs and cats were spayed/neutered and vaccinated. They aim to return to Puerto Rico in February and May 2019. So far, more than 15,000 pets have been spayed, neutered, and vaccinated –– all at no cost to their owners.
The other goals for Spayathon are to provide training to Puerto Rican veterinarians and donate surgical equipment and supplies so they can sustain the effort to limit abandoned pets.
For more information on Spayathon for Puerto Rico, check out the video below.