Suncoast Animal League preps for mass evacuation of pets from Puerto Rico

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Palm Harbor animal rescue embarks today on what they say is, logistically, their most difficult mission ever. Members of the Suncoast Animal League, along with a representative of Just One Humanity, will fly to Puerto Rico in an effort to save the lives of dogs and cats that have been left homeless, and sick, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The organization says tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans left the island, and evacuated to the states, leaving pets behind. Now, in video received by Suncoast Animal League, those animals are seen drinking sewer water, scavenging for food, and living in squalor. Refrigerated vaccines and medications at veterinarians’ offices are ruined.

During their trip, through Sunday, the Suncoast Animal League will asses how dire the situation is, and will map out plans for large-scale rescue missions to bring animals to the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

“There are no crates, there are no cages down there, so we first have to bring crates and cages there, get them down on the island, and turn around and bring the animals back,” says Rick Chaboudy, Executive Director of Suncoast Animal League. “This is the most difficult case we’ve ever been involved in, logistically.”

During this trip, the Suncoast Animal League will spend several days vaccinating and medicating animals, to give them a better chance of fighting off any illness caused by the lack of clean drinking water and food, overcrowding, mosquitoes, internal parasites, and wounds.

Donations for the large-scale evacuation of the pets can be made to SuncoastAnimalLeague.org.

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