Associated Press presents a dire situation concerning the cats and dogs of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria devastated the island and shattered the animal shelter system while cat and dog owners have taken to abandoning their pets in large numbers for a variety of reasons one of which is that as they can’t cope they feel they have to get rid of their pets.
The executive director of the Humane Society of Puerto Rico said:
“The situation is horrible. They want to turn in pets every single day. There are a lot of animals being abandoned…”
Although immediately after the hurricane 1,000 cats and dogs were flown out to shelters on the US mainland, the situation sounds appalling. People are abandoning pets at a far higher rate than usual while most of the island’s shelters have closed due to damage. Other shelters are massively oversubscribed.
One problem compounds the other. Closed shelters leads to more stays which probably leads to more unwanted cats. Not only are shelters closed, many veterinary clinics are too. This has lead to less spaying and neutering which in turn as you can guess has lead to more unwanted puppies and kittens.
The biggest shelter is functioning but has a total of 750 rescue animals in its care, Director Maribel Ortiz admits that it is too many:
“It’s too many right?”
But she can’t leave them roaming around as strays. Another problem for this shelter is the closure of the local supermarket which used to donate unsold foods to the shelter. This has increased costs.
There are some harrowing stories of cats and dogs being abandoned on roadsides and in empty homes. The former owners are relying on the US Federal Emergency Management Agency to find the animals and rescue them.
Dellymar Bernal, the President of the board of directors of the Saint Francis of Assisi Animal Sanctuary said:
“Our situation is dire because the number of abandonments has tripled in recent weeks…We know the abandonments are going to continue or worsen…Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria is still claiming animals as victims.”
The situation has to be highlighted in order to keep it in the minds of people which may assist in rescue and saving lives.