Monday, June 9, 2008

Sponsor a Los Machos Sato this Father's Day!!!

First, about our morning at Los Machos Beach:

Karla and I left San Juan a little after 7 am this morning and headed out to Los Machos Beach.
On the way, we discussed what our mission was for the day: to communicate with locals about any recent happenings on or around Los Machos including dog "sweeps," suspicious behavior, etc. I also wanted to do a bit of outreach, carrying with me a handful of business cards to give to anyone willing to be a "watchdog" for me in Ceiba. Considering we still have four adult dogs and nine puppies to ship to a shelter in the States, as well as Blondie, and not enough funding to cover all the accrued costs of the vetting, boarding, and shipping of all of the above, rescuing a sato or two from Los Machos today was not on the agenda...always easier said than done.

Upon arrival, we went straight over to the abandoned gas station about a half mile away from the beach to look for Toby, where I was told he might be. Alas, no Toby, but there was this other cutie hanging out that wasn't overtly friendly, but didn't mind eating hot dog pieces from the ground a foot away from me. Let's call him Wally, shall we?

We cruised on over to the Avis car rental storefront, where many a sato tend to congregate. We were greeted by sweet Chip. Chip is a recent drop off as of about a month and a half ago. He has adorable puppy energy, wags his tail more with his butt than his actual tail, and loves to be pet and talked to. Considering his puppy tendencies, he actually has a calm demeanor about him with a pinch of nervousness, never being too overly anxious or rambunctious. He's, simply put, an amazing dog.

Chip, a resident of the Avis parking lot near Los Machos Beach

As Karla and I were about to get back in the car to hit up other areas, I decided that maybe today was Chip's day to be rescued.

We then went to the beach, right next to the fish market and saw 10-15 satos, including two sweet little, 3-month-old, black puppies. I felt relieved at this point because I saw many familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a month or so. It would seem that in my past few visits to Los Machos Beach, many of the regulars were simply "somewhere else" while I was there. Perhaps it was too hot; perhaps they have another hideout that I'm not yet aware of in the forest by the beach. Either way, they were alive and doing well...relatively well considering they are still all homeless. Among the friendly faces I've been missing was our sweet little hound mix, Toby. I have been communicating recently with someone interested in adopting Toby, and will hopefully be able to pick him up soon. Unfortunately, still no sign of Gizmo. Where are you, buddy?!?

After my initial sense of relief from seeing Toby among others, it dawned on me that there was absolutely no way that we were going to leave the beach empty-handed. I called Dr. Ramos's and found out that they had two kennels left that I could use. Then I told Karla that her job, as my partner in crime of the day, was to pick the lucky satos that should be rescued. Yes, I was joking, but unless you've been to a place that has 20 puppy-dog eyes staring at you simultaneously, begging you to take them with you, do you know how hard it is to pick only two dogs. First thing's first, Karla and I need to talk to locals, our original mission. We needed some time to make the decision...

We went over to the fish market and spoke with Juan, a man who looks after the fish-market dogs including the recently rescued Cha Cha and Nugget. I've spoken with Juan many times and am a big fan of his. My favorite part of our conversation with him today was when he mentioned Cha Cha. He first asked how she was, and was blown away when I told him she had nine puppies. Then he said, in Spanish, "You let me know if she's a problem for you, and you can bring her back here," with a
smirk on his face. We then proceeded to make fun of him for missing his Cha Cha. It was darling. Granted, I know Juan agrees with me in one way or another that rescuing these dogs is much better than them living even in the protection of the fish market parking lot. Still, I LOVE that he asks me about her every time I see him, and that he obviously thought of her as pet, in his own way.

Juan told us that there had been no beach sweeps recently and that the last
one he knew of was close to a year ago. He said that he knows people drop off puppies and dogs all the time. In fact, there were three new puppies in the fish market parking lot that were biting our ankles, playfully of course, while we were conversing with Juan. Juan also mentioned that many locals will pick up "the little ones" as their personal pets. I left him my card, actually three cards, and told him (through Karla's translation) that he can give anyone my information that may need help with an unwanted pet, spay/neuter for their pets, or with the dogs with Los Machos Beach. Juan was very receptive and endearing.

Karla and I decided to take the two black puppies, who we named Bongo (male) and Lulu (female), and Chip. How we came to this decision, I'm not sure. It's all a blur. With Chip, I worry about dogs near the Avis parking lot because they are in a common area for poisonings, out in the open, and in a relatively high-traffic area. Chip, also, has been all alone in that area for as long as I've seen him out there and is pretty regularly bullied by some other local satos since he's the "new guy." His mange and bite wounds were getting worse before getting better, on top of the fact he
was covered in fleas and ticks. All these reasons led me to choose Chip. Bongo and Lulu, on the other hand, just got lucky. They also were receiving a fair share of negative attention from some of the adult dogs, including snarls and bites, causing Bongo and Lulu to squeal in terror. That was most likely the point at which Karla and I deemed them "saved."

We headed away from the beach and decided to drive down to the other side of the beach. Unfortunately, we found what I often find at this specific location: a dead dog. I can't be sure how this dog died, but he or she was wrapped up in a blanket before being dumped here.

A dead dog in the normal dead-dog dump on Los Machos Beach

The sadness continued at out next stop, back by the Avis parking lot. Madeleine, who I have not introduced you to, is a troubled dog. In any and all of my visits, she will not come near me and has some aggressive tendencies. She is hairless due to mange among other skin problems. She has scabs all over her body and is a walking skeleton. Today, something was different, something was even worse about her than normal. I found her laying in the grass, motionless. I walked over to her and she didn't immediately run away as she usually does. She just looked up at me as if saying, "Please don't hurt me." It was heart-breaking, to say the least. Karla and I decided we needed to take her to Dr. Ramos, possibly have her put out of her misery (her eyes showed pain I had never seen in an animal before). Then, some neighbors came up to us to and told us she had been hit by a car recently and would not eat or drink. In the past, she would, at a far distance, eat a handful of hot dog pieces I gave her in one swallow. She was on her last legs, or so it would seem.

Poor Madeleine

The neighbors, Olga and Juan (not the same Juan as from the fish market) gave us towels to carry her in. We tried to pick her up, she yelped, snapped at the air though aimed at us, and released herself from our grip. She scurried into the bushes, out of our reach. Karla tried to access her, and was growled at. We missed out opportunity to help this poor creature today. I can't help but regret not having a carrier with me today, because maybe if I had, Madeleine's pain would be over. I gave the neighbors my card, asking that they call me to keep me updated on her condition and to have those people who feed dogs at Los Machos to call me about her. Maybe they can help her in my absence this coming week (I'll get to that subject later). I haven't given up on her yet, and I don't want her to die out there. I want her, if she cannot be saved, to feel peace.

We ended the visit on a more positive note, picking up Chip across the street from where I found Madeleine. He was an angel, though nervous about being inside a car. Back to San Juan we went, three satos in tow. On the way back to the city, both Bongo and Lulu got carsick. Otherwise, they took advantage of the air-conditioned atmosphere and took a nap the majority of the car ride. Chip was in the back of our 4-Runner, laying on a towel and occasionally propping his head on the back seat to say hi to Karla and the puppies.

At Dr. Ramos, Bongo and Lulu were tested for the usual and ended up having hookworms. Otherwise, they are healthy little puplets that should be ready to be shipped in two weeks. Chip is, as I figured, covered in demodectic mange, which could take some time to clear up. He was heartworm and ehrlichia negative (WOOHOOO!!!), but weakly positive for anaplasmosis, which is treatable.

Well, it's been a long day. I am happy to say that three more dogs are off Los Machos Beach. As usual, we need sponsors for Chip, Bongo, and Lulu. Think about this: What a wonderful present a sponsored Los Machos Sato would make for Father's Day!! (Hence the title of this blog post, in case you were wondering.) Wow, this marks the first time in my life that I have solicited anything for a Hallmark holiday. All jokes aside, I encourage everyone to consider sponsoring one of these animals honor of your father this Father's Day, for a friend's birthday coming up, as a wedding present for animal lovers, and the list goes on. Not to sound like a broken record, but our budget is tight and our vet bills are overwhelming. We will do whatever it takes to improve the lives of the animals still suffering on the streets and beaches in Puerto Rico, and are asking you to do the same.

Still thinking about poor Madeleine,

Photos: From top to bottom, Wally, Chip, Toby, Lola, a Los Machos clan, two new dropped-off puppies who are being watched over at the fish market, Bongo and Lulu, dead dog, Madeleine, Bongo and Lulu in the car, Chip being such a good boy at the vet.

P.S. I will be out of town, celebrating my husband and my first anniversary, from June 10 to June 15. I will be out of cellphone range and will not be checking my emails. I will return any messages when I return!!!


Liz said...

Shanti and Karla,
Thank you for your day's story and for rescuing those those three dogs. You sure did get a lot done in one day's work. God Bless You. You both, have no doubt, already earned your wings.

Anonymous said...

So glad you found Toby. Praying for Madeiline, I hope that you are able to get to her to help her. Poor girl, she looks pitiful. Keep us updated. Thanks for all of your wonderful work. The three rescues are adorable.

Betsy O'Neill said...

Hope you find Madeleine and hopefully she is not in too much pain. Happy to see that you grabbed the puplets and Chip. I'm sure it has got to be very hard not taking all of them. On a happy note...Happy Anniversary...enjoy!

Anonymous said...

YAY!!!! You rescued Chip! That makes me happy :)

Anonymous said...

please keep me updated on madeline and best of wishes with her rescue, i was also looking to find out if homer the big black lab was still running the streets or if he had been rescued yet if not im looking into donating to his rescue please let me know thanks

Anonymous said...

I hope Toby is rescued and adopted soon. He is adorable and thank goodness you spotted him again. I enjoy reading about your rescues and support your every effort.