Stray dogs, abandoned and left to starve in their native Puerto Rico, are en route to Tampa to maybe one day find forever homes in the Tampa Bay area.
Thanks to the Humane Society of the United States, about 200 stray dogs, known as "Sato" in Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico, are bound for the U.S. mainland.
The Humane Society is conducting the transport, which has been dubbed "Operation Breathing Room."
As part of an emergency placement partnership, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay will receive 22 dogs from Puerto Rico Saturday.
There are reportedly 500,000 stray dogs wandering the streets, neighborhoods, beaches and rural areas of the island nation and United States territory. Many of the dogs are dumped in an area known as "Dead Dog Beach," where they are left to starve to death or targeted for cruelty and brutality.
"It is heartbreaking to read accounts of these dogs," Humane Society of Tampa Bay Chief Executive Sherry Silk said in a release.
"Puppies and adult dogs are routinely used for target practice both with guns and vehicles, and many are subject to ritualistic torture. Not to mention the fact that they are starving and often suffering from illness and injury. We are proud to be part of this effort to end such horror."
The remaining 178 dogs from Puerto Rico will be taken by other emergency placement partners across the Southeast.
The dogs will arrive in Fort Lauderdale Saturday afternoon, where they will be picked up by Humane Society of Tampa Bay staff members for the trip to Tampa .
The dogs of various bred-mixes are expected to arrive at the Humane Society's shelter at 3607 N. Armenia Ave. Saturday evening.
After the dogs arrive in Tampa, they will be assessed for medical needs and any special care, including being spayed or neutered, in an effort to improve their physical and mental health.
The dogs then will be evaluated to determine whether they will be adopted. According to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay release, it is unknown as of yet whether they will be available for adoption but the Humane Society will keep the public updated on their progress via the agency's blog and social media.
The agency's blog is HumaneSocietyTampa.org/blog.