On an ordinary day, the main plaza in Vieques’ Isabel Segunda neighborhood comes alive with town hall meetings or morning yoga classes. But on Oct. 1, 11 days after Hurricane Maria struck the small island off the coast of Puerto Rico, the plaza was filled for a very different reason.
Late last summer, storm after storm pounded Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. But thanks to disaster preparation and purposeful collaboration, animal welfare organizations rescued thousands of shelter pets, wildlife and farm animals—and ensured that owned pets were reunited with their families once the storms subsided.
At 11 a.m. on Feb. 3, Amanda Gossom of The HSUS’s puppy mills campaign was doing a routine part of her job, researching online inspection records for USDA-licensed dog breeders, when suddenly she hit a wall.
She’d typed in the next breeder’s name and clicked search, expecting the usual information. Instead, she got an error message.
For weeks, the small bull terrier mix waited in the shelter, her face obscured by a plastic cone. May had come to the Washington Humane Society in early November, after college students in a D.C. group house could no longer care for her. The last one to move out dropped her off at the shelter. Being in a kennel made her anxious. She rubbed her ears raw, and they became infected. She chewed her tail.
All of the puppies loaded onto the transport truck in Bowling Green were headed on journeys, leaving Kentucky to find new homes. The April 2014 transport would take them from the South, where puppies are plentiful, to rescues in the Northeast, where higher spay/neuter rates prevail.
Many shelter and animal rescue staff have seen firsthand the scenes of filth and neglect at puppy mills: the cramped, dark pens housing terrified animals; the lack of food, fresh water, or veterinary care. Rescues are often the culmination of months of preparation, and, when they happen, they're a methodical step toward putting one of an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. out of business.