PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Members of the Suncoast Animal League landed in Puerto Rico Thursday. They’re hoping to help hundreds of dogs and cats abandoned in Hurricane Maria.
Animal rescuers, working in the pitch dark with no running water sent videos and photos showing the desperate situation in Puerto Rico to Rick Chaboudy, the CEO of Suncoast Animal league in Palm Harbor.
“We were stunned," Chaboudy explained, "and we’re not a group that’s easily shocked. I’ve been through Katrina, Andrew...all of them. I think the biggest thing that got me was the complete devastation.”
The suncoast animal league immediately made plans to help. They packed up $3,000 dollars in vaccines, food and supplies and sent 4 volunteers on a plane this afternoon.
They’re in a rush to get as many of the dogs and cats off the island to help the animals and save thousands of people from getting sick. 4 people have died and at least 6 more are ill in Puerto Rico, most likely from a disease spread by animal urine.
“Everything is going into the ground and into the water system,” Chaboudy explained.
Without running water, thousands more people could get sick.
Suncoast Animal League’s tiny, 1,700 square foot clinic in Palm Harbor is already packed with cats, dogs, baby squirrels and even a tiny possum displaced in Hurricane Irma, but they’re making room.
Terry Premru, of the Suncoast Animal League is delighted.“It’s exciting to know they’ll get out, and will be okay.”
The group plans to bring back up to a dozen animals this Sunday and many more in the weeks to come, with the help of private pilots.
It won’t be an easy task.
“It’s the biggest logistical nightmare you can imagine," Chaboudy added.
Yet, the animal lovers say it’s simply the right thing to do…to protect the animals and people trapped on the devastated island.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. We’re hoping to make the better part happen quicker," Chaboudy said.