Those of us who are lucky enough to share our homes with pets are often so comfortable with our day-to-day togetherness that we barely give a thought to what stray and abandoned animals go through. But we can pretty much guarantee that once you learn about The Sato Project, you’ll hardly be able to stop thinking about this extraordinary organization and its rescue dogs.
The Sato Project was founded by British-born Chrissy Beckles, a champion amateur boxer whose husband is a stuntman and was hired for a film in Puerto Rico. She accompanied him on his trip, and quickly realized that it was impossible to visit a beach without finding stray and abandoned dogs, some so desperately hungry that they’ll chew on rocks to curb the cravings. Devastated by what she saw, Chrissy began volunteering with and donating to Puerto Rican rescue groups. She even adopted one of her dogs from a shelter in Arecibo. In 2011, she launched The Sato Project, which is dedicated to rescuing stray, abandoned, and injured dogs, primarily from a hell-on-earth known as Dead Dog Beach in Yabucoa, a town in southeast Puerto Rico.
Warning: if your stomach is on the sensitive side, do not Google photos of this place. You can’t undo the heartbreak once you’ve seen the horrific experiences these dogs, many of them abused and dumped like garbage, go through. Get a more uplifting version of the story of the place by watching this video on Victor Amor, one of Sato’s greatest rescue stories to date.
Sato’s beach coordinator goes to Dead Dog Beach every single day, no matter the date on the calendar or the weather (yes, even in hurricanes). She documents each dog on the beach and logs medications and food given. As funds and space allow, the dogs—with the very young, injured, and sick given priority—are taken to Sato’s vet, who treats them for common parasites and tests them for diseases. Once the dogs have passed through a quarantine period to ensure they won’t pass on deadly communicable diseases like parvovirus and are healthy, the dogs are vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Some dogs aren’t quite so lucky. Sato’s website tells the story of several dogs with injuries and malnutrition so severe, they had to undergo emergency surgery and extended rehabilitation. But regardless of how long it takes to treat a dog and the cost incurred (an average of $1,000 per dog), Sato is committed to bringing these beautiful animals back to health and vitality.
Once the dogs are given a clean bill of health and lots of socialization, they’re issued travel and health certificates and flown to New York City, where partner shelters Animal Haven and the SPCA of Westchester County bring the dogs to foster care. After two to four weeks, the animals are ready for placement in forever homes.
We couldn’t be more touched by Sato’s story and incredible generosity toward companion animals. Learn more about the tireless work they do here, or, better yet, support The Sato Project by making a donation or adopting one of their rescues.