Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mika at STAR in Philadelphia; Alfie ADOPTED!!!

Greetings from California! Sorry it’s been awhile, but I’ll try to make up for it by sharing fantastic news! Though I missed out on the nitty-gritty details, Ginny from Manos por Patas reached out to Mika (100-lb. Neapolitan Mastiff) and set her up with STAR in Philadelphia. This particular rescue has dealt with animals like Mika and was more than willing to work with and on her issues with aggression and protectiveness. Word is that Mika is doing fantastic and may even have a forever home lined up!

I also received an email from Alfie’s forever family in New Jersey. He has been renamed Dexter, which I think is perfect, and is fattening up beautifully.

Here is an excerpt from the email:

Dear Shanti,
We have adopted "Alfie" from the St. Hubert's Dog Shelter, in Madison, NJ. He had your letter with him in his file...

Alfie, now "Dexter," in his momma's lap

We live in the Town of Whippany, New Jersey, USA. We have, as you can see in the picture, a very large fenced in yard. "Alfie" loves to run around and play with our four-year-old Mini Pin. They have not established yet who is in charge. I think "Alfie" will be though. He has put on some weight since we got him and if he could talk he would probably say "Thank You, the beautiful people of "Amigos de Los Animales," for saving my life and sending me to the States. Both he and our family are lucky we found each other.

Thank You,
Barbara & Jim

Now that just gives me all kinds of warm and fuzzies inside.

In other news, I have received some letters (read to me by my husband, Colin, who is holding down the fort in Puerto Rico) recently regarding the disgust toward how animals are treated and the continued neglect of animal welfare in Puerto Rico. First of all, thank you for your concern for the animals of Los Machos Beach as well as the much needed and appreciated donations that keep this project going. If you feel so inclined, I urge you to express your opinions to
Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Given that tourism is considered by many to be the primary fuel to ameliorate Puerto Rico’s no-end-in-sight, self-inflicted economic recession, letters stating that potential visitors will not step foot on the so-called “enchanted” island due to its blatant animal welfare issues are necessary.

And the address:

Terestella Gonzalez Denton
Executive Director
Compañía de Turismo de Puerto Rico
PO Box 4435

San Juan, PR 00902-4435

And then there is always the mayor of Ceiba, that is well aware of the issues in his city with respect to the inhumane treatment and overwhelming presence of stray animals, but has yet to do anything about the need for low-cost spay/neuter clinics, local outreach and education and law enforcement for animal abuse and abandonment. Let's tell him what we think, shall we?

Hon. Gilberto Lex Camacho
Municipio de Ceiba
P.O. Box 224
Ceiba, P.R. 00735-0224

It may not seem like a letter would do much, but for those of you who are not able to help us at the scene of the crime and have asked if there is more you can do, here are a couple of ideas. You may have more of an effect than you think from miles away.

Also, for those of you who knew of the possibility of Colin and I moving from Puerto Rico this summer, I am happy (for the most part) to say that we will not be relocated: The Santulli Los Machos Beach Project rescue missions will continue!

Getting homesick,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Misdiagnosed Blondie

Karla, the angel that rescued Blondie from the streets of Condado, called me today to give me an update. As I mentioned last post, Blondie was still bleeding. Dr. Ramos became concerned that something else was going on, so he decided to do a vaginal exam on her. Turns out, his initial diagnosis was wrong; Blondie was not rat poisoned. Instead, Dr. Ramos found several garbanzo-bean-sized polyps (tumors) in her vagina. Considering where they are inside her, a biopsy would be tricky. In his medical opinion, he does not think they are carcinogenic, but instead viral (i.e. HPV), and will therefore treat her accordingly with something similar to chemotherapy that will chemically remove the growths, minus the hair loss, lethargy and other associated side effects. At worst, Blondie may experience some nausea and diarrhea, but if the treatment is successful, she will be free and clear within 7 days. If she is not, Blondie may indeed have carcinogenic tumors, and we will have to make some more difficult decisions.

So let's be hopeful. And on that note, here's our Dakota, still livin' the life in Massachusetts and hogging the couch, or car seat in this case.

Renita and Dakota, getting along pretty well it would seem...though it looks like Dakota's getting the better end of the deal in this shot.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

News on Blondie

A quick update on Blondie (thank you everyone for your concern for this darling girl):

She is still not 100% yet. Dr. Ramos has her on antibiotics at this point and decided she did not necessarily need a blood transfusion, but she is still bleeding (which is not the best sign). However, Dr. Ramos and his crew of rockstars seem to think she'll pull through. As soon as we know if she is completely out of the woods, I'll post the good news!!!

California is kicking my butt!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More on Riley's pups, compliments of Liz

Call me lazy, but I'm not sure I could explain what happened to Riley's puppies better than Liz has anyway. If you would like more details on Riley's brood's saga, check out this post on Elizabeth Kracht's, ADLA rockstar/leader/diva, blog.

Canine Herpes Virus & Riley's Pupsicles R.I.P.

The truth is, I am feeling extremely lazy right now: more like exhausted. I arrived in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon, said a quick hello to dearly missed friends and am now in Barstow, a desert town two hours northeast of LA. Tomorrow begins my swan dive back into field biology, my professional life before Puerto Rico and ADLA. My coworkers have warned me to expect 60-hour work weeks, and possible weekend work as well. So for my regular Los Machos Satos' Blog readers, while I will not slack on keeping you abreast of pertinent sato news, I apologize in advance if my posts are written with eyes half open over the next month.

Well, wish me luck...hopefully I didn't forget how to be a biologist.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Another rescue, this time from my neighborhood

I received a phone call from a dear friend, Karla, this morning about a dog roaming outside her apartment complex in Condado (a neighborhood in San Juan). Before I had a chance to call her back, Karla had already brought in this sweet, yellow lab mix into Dr. Ramos' to have her checked out. Karla's main concern is that she was bleeding from some orifice.

Blondie, rescued this morning and bleeding from her back end (yes, that's blood on the floor), most likely ingested rat poison, a toxin commonly used to eradicate stray animals in Puerto Rico.

Upon initial examination, Dr. Ramos was hopeful that she was simply going through menstruation, though there were far worse possibilities. Based on a blood test, Dr. Ramos has concluded that dear Blondie, as Karla named her, most likely ingested rat poison somewhat recently. Rat poison is often used in Puerto Rico to kill stray animals, however I suppose we can't be sure how she came upon this type of toxin. Regardless, I'm irate about this and am assuming the worst, that someone intended to poison the roaming dog.

From stories I have heard from my neighbors in Condado, it wouldn't be the first time. It would seem the reason there is such a small population, to no population, of strays in the tourist trap that is Condado is because of tight "animal control"...translation: dogs are regularly picked up and brought to a "shelter" or are poisoned and disposed of. The worst part is that these Condado strays belonged to someone at some point. For example, four or five months ago Colin and I befriended a sato roaming right outside of our apartment, too scared to be picked up or pet for too long. Turns out a woman who lives two buildings east of us thought "Linda" (pronounced leen-dah, meaning "cutie" in Spanish), as we all called her, was more work that she was willing to deal with and decided that putting her on Condado Beach would be the right thing to do. Fortunately, those of the dog community of Condado put our heads together, socialized her a bit, and found her a great home.

Blondie, here safe and in Dr. Ramos' care, desperately needs a sponsor!

Colin and I just got back from Dr. Ramos', where we got to meet Blondie. She's an absolute angel. Considering what she is internally going through right now, she greeted me with tail wags, a couple licks on the hand, and those darling eyes of love.

Karla told me she had seen Blondie about two weeks ago as well, but figured she was just off leash with someone since she had a collar on. Well, thanks to Karla, Blondie will hopefully pull through her terrible ordeal. Because Blondie is already showing symptoms of being poisoned, it is too late to try to remove the poison from her by inducing vomiting or other less complicated methods. Dr. Ramos will try some sort of antidote, though a blood transfusion may necessary...whatever it takes.

We are hoping to find a sponsor and/or adopter for this special dog. Please contact or simply donate through the "Donate" buttons on this blog if you would like to contribute towards Blondie's recovery.

And a quick peek at our darling Chalupa, still a little sick, at Dr. Ramos' today.

We're gonna get you outta there, girl, I promise!!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And then there were none

The last two of Riley's brood were put down today, as recommended by the vet in Cabo Rojo. He says, without certainty, that Riley's puppies' downfall may have been due to canine herpesvirus. We may do a tox screen to find out for sure, though the results are not guaranteed. I am going into Dr. Ramos' tomorrow, and I will ask if we can do tests on Riley, given that the pups got whatever they had from her most likely.

Vaya con Dios, little ones.

2 puppies remain

I've sat here for a bit, trying to figure out what the best title for this post would be. There's just no easy way to say it. As of now, only 2 of Riley's seven pups are still alive. Something has swept over the litter. We'll find out more soon, but for now all I know is that the vet in Cabo Rojo is suggesting putting the other two pups down as well. It would be hard and exhausting to think of all the reasons why Riley's brood is failing to survive unless we have the vet do a toxicology screen on one of the 2-week-old pups. So we are planning on doing just that. We're waiting to get more information before making the decision to put the two fighters to sleep, and I'll keep you posted. After Nena died days ago, I really thought the rest of the puppies would be alright...or at least I hoped.

With no easy way to change the subject, the shipment was successful yesterday...well, depending on who you talk to. Chalupa might argue since she was not cleared to fly again. Poor little girl, she still has symptoms of influenza or something like that. I think she's coming down with the "get me out of this cage" virus, and I'm going to do everything I can to help her. I'm looking for a foster home for her, but even more, trying to arrange a shipment for her and Riley for Friday or Saturday of next week to St. Hubert's. Jamie Sherr, our trusted volunteer in New Jersey, has offered to pick these two Los Machos Satas from Newark, keep them over night for one night, and take them to St. Hubert's the next day. Well, hopefully I can take Jamie up on her fantastic offer! On the Puerto Rican side, my main squeeze, Colin, will do whatever it takes while I'm gone to get Chalupa and Riley on their way. I am a lucky girl.

The only Los Machos sato to leave yesterday was Gage, who was as sweet as can be through the entire process. He would go in and out of the kennel very willingly, and whenever he was inside his kennel, peacefully slept or just rested waiting to do whatever we asked him to do next. I really hope to hear from his future adopter...he's a special boy.

More soon,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Los Machos visit, shipment postponed, and much more

Talk about a week! Let's start with last Monday and go from there.

Monday: Colin and I drove about 4 blocks from our apartment to pick up Jamie Sherr, a rockstar volunteer down for the week to see some satos and vacation a bit and also to serve as our flyer for 16 dogs, along with her friend Brad at their hotel in Ocean Park. And off we went to Los Machos Beach in Ceiba to show them why this project exists, how sweet these animals can be, and how much these animals love hot dogs. We arrived at Los Machos around 8:15 am.

Our first sato sighting was sweet orphan Annie:

SEEKING SPONSOR/ADOPTER: Annie, a sweet 25-lb. sata with a darling personality

What surprised me is that upon arriving near the Avis parking lot, I didn't see the usual suspects. Then, across the street, I saw a familiar tail wag: It was Homer. Homer, Toby, and Lily (a beautiful black lab I once saw roaming the streets, but never saw her again) were all anxiously waiting for hot dogs and love behind a fence to a small apartment complex. Lily supposedly lives there, but Homer and Toby slip through a hole in the fence at night to sleep. They looked so happy, especially Homer who once took 10 minutes or so to warm up to me. He is coming out of his shell beautifully.

SEEKING SPONSOR/ADOPTER: Homer, once a shy and reserved black lab mix, is learning to trust and finally beginning to grow back some fur!

SEEKING SPONSOR/ADOPTER: Toby, a little hound with a lot of love

After spending some time with Toby, Annie, Homer, and couple others, we cruised around to some of the other spots. Close to the beach near the marina, a posse of puppies and dogs greeted us...oh, and there was a new addition to the canine family...

A tiny little kitty found it's way into the Los Machos Sato clan.

This bold lil' thing was not at all shy about rolling around in the dirt with the dogs.

There were so many new puppies. A regular momma who desperately needs to be caught and spayed (I call her Lola) showed off her new litter.

Lola says, "I am so over this puppy business."

After spending time with as many Los Machos satos as we could, we shot over to Maria's to pick up Alfie, gave him a bath, and drove back towards Ocean Park to pick up Riley. Over the weekend, Riley's health went down the drain: She was barely eating, had diarrhea of all sorts of colors, and lacked her normal spark. After picking up Riley, we headed to Dr. Ramos' to get Alfie ready to for the St. Hubert's flight on March 28 and to see what was buggin' our little Riley momma.

The results: Alfie was deemed "good to go," and Riley tested negative for worms and other parasites. The only answer Dr. Ramos came up with for Riley was that the puppies were "sucking the life out of her." What did this mean? Liz and Efren had a lot of work cut out for them. All seven puppies had to be bottle-fed every 4 hours until they could be returned to their mom. Days later, Dr. Ramos decided that Riley, for health reasons, should not be reunited with her pups at any time. The hunt for a more permanent foster home for Riley's pups began.

More pictures of the satos seen on Monday will be scattered throughout this post. Enjoy!

Tuesday: Jamie and Brad went back out to Los Machos, hot dogs in hand, to see the satos they fell in love with the day before. Unfortunately, all the puppies they had seen the day before were either hiding out in the shade or had been taken "somewhere."
Jamie and Brad were able to talk to someone out there, Angel, who was feeding the satos. From my understanding, someone came and picked up about 8 dogs/puppies; we don't know who took the dogs, only that Angel, who does care for these animals, seemed not to be worried. Jamie and Brad sort of got the impression that these dogs were going to a shelter of sorts, though they got the impression that the dogs were going somewhere safe, whether or not we are just wishful thinking. If most of the dogs that were taken were puppies, there is a good chance that someone came with the intention of finding them homes or selling them since puppies are so easy to place, but that would be extremely optimistic.

Puppy madness!!!

I'm still working on getting more details. We did find out recently, however, that there are 3 different men, Victor, Angel, and another, that regularly feed the dogs and give them lots of love...looks like we have even more wonderful people to help us after all. If we are just finding out about these helping hands now, who have supposedly been taking care of these dogs for years now, it could be just as possible that someone/some people are actually rescuing animals at Los Machos as well, right? However, even though I have only been a part of this rescue world for a few months now, I unfortunately believe the dogs and puppies taken were taken with less innocent intentions; I've become slightly tainted.

SEEKING SPONSOR/ADOPTER: Gizmo, just being awesome Gizmo, wouldn't leave us alone during our visit.

Wednesday: A friend of mine Anne, visiting from Chicago, and I went snorkeling today: a necessary day-long vacation. On the way back home, I relieved Liz and Efren of their bottle-feeding duties since they had already been amazing enough. One of the little pups was constantly crying and seemingly not doing well. I named her "Nena." I held onto her as often as I could.

Thursday: Nena's crying continued. I decided to bring them to Dr. Ramos' to see if they could hang on to them for a couple of days and figure out what was wrong. As they often do, they helped me out. In other news, Chalupa had started showing signs of sickness, with some nasal discharge and general lethargy, and was taken off the list of dogs to be shipped to St. Hubert's on March 28. Yes, I was pretty upset about it. Chalupa has lived at Dr. Ramos for more than a month...poor girl. Soon enough.

SEEKING SPONSOR/ADOPTER: China (pronounced chee-nah), is not nearly as scared of people as she used to be. Head rubs are her favorite.

Thursday night, a group of us from Amigos de los Animales joined our fabulous visiting volunteers, Jamie and Brad (I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of these two die-hard animal lovers) as well as John Bates (featured on our website here), for dinner at Bamboobei in Pinones. Good times, good times.

Friday: Oh, the shipment. Everything seemed to be going fine, until we went up to the counter to check-in. We were an hour late to check in the dogs. Somewhere along the way of arranging this shipment, we failed to realize that the departure time for the one-way flight to Newark had changed from 6:50 to 5:50 p.m. due to the time change on the east coast. Our dogs did not fly with Jamie as the flyer, and despite all her efforts to make it work, we could not reverse our mistake. Jamie still enthusiastically took Alfie, the little Chihuahua mix from Los Machos, as a carry on.

Saturday: Liz and Efren decided to rock my world once again by offering/deciding to bring Riley's seven pups to their new foster home in Cabo Rojo (3 hours from San Juan). Gina Sein, another rescuer and foster mom, arranged for a neighbor of hers who has experience with puppies to foster Riley's brood. The drop-off mission was successful... *sigh* (of relief). The puppies were safe and in a stable home before my approaching departure to California.

SEEKING SPONSOR/ADOPTER: Benji, a newly abandoned dog that has supposedly been picked up and dropped off 3 different times by the same person. He is extremely social and so darn cute.

Jamie called me in the a.m. to let me know that Alfie was an angel during the flight and during the night at Jamie's abode and made it safely to St. Hubert's. Jamie, you are my personal hero...thank you!

Monday: Gina called Liz to let her know that Nena did not make it. The poor little pups had to be weakened by being removed for their mom, being moved around so much, and who knows what else. It's terribly sad, but all we can hope for is that the rest pull through.

Thought I would add a picture Patty sent me of Dakota and her always-empty food bowl. From what I've heard, Kota eats whatever food is in her own bowl and whatever food is in Patty's other dog Renita's bowl. Patty has fondly referred to her as "piggy."

Another flyer, Jennifer Cece, is flying out here on Tuesday (4/1), staying the night at Adri's, and will head back to Newark on Wednesday (4/2), taking off two days of work so that 16 satos can get to St. Hubert's. These acts of selflessness from sweet souls such as Jennifer and Jamie deem me speechless. We won't mess this one up, I promise.

Today: Riley's pups' have been latched on to another lactating mother. Only one of the pups seem to be having some issues, but is receiving special attention and alone time with the newly introduced momma. Let's keep our fingers crossed for the remaining six of Riley's pups!!!

In other good news, looks like Chalupa's doing much better and is going on tomorrow's flight. I'll be sure to let you know how tomorrow's shipment goes!

And no, I have not yet packed for my month-long trip to Southern California. Hopefully I'll get around to it before I leave on Saturday.

And finally, check out Rocco, in the arms of one his new family members...makes me tear up just a little bit!!! He's just so gosh darn cute!

Lookin' good, sweet boy!