Dear  ,

One year ago today, my team and I watched with our hearts in our stomachs as the eye of a massive hurricane closed in on Puerto Rico. As predicted, it eventually made landfall right over Dead Dog Beach, where I first began rescuing one dog at a time almost twelve years ago. 

On September 20th, 2017 life changed for the people and animals of Puerto Rico. Still recovering from Hurricane Irma only two weeks prior, Hurricane Maria utterly devastated the island. Hundreds of thousands of residents were left homeless and without access to basic necessities such as drinking water, communication lines, and medical care. These storms caused the largest blackout in U.S. history and the second largest blackout in global history. Hurricane Maria claimed the lives of untold numbers of animals and, as we now know, the lives of almost 3,000 people. 

But despite this devastating blow, The Sato Project wasted no time fighting back harder than ever, determined to save as many of our beloved satos as possible. Our first post-hurricane 'Freedom Flight' took off only nine days later on September 29th, delivering 60 dogs to safety. And thanks to you, our amazingly supportive community, that was only the beginning. Since the hurricanes, The Sato Project has been able to exponentially expand and adapt our work to meet this growing humanitarian and animal welfare crisis. Below are just a few highlights of what we have been able to achieve in the past year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Yabucoa:
  • Greatly expanded the scope of our rescue efforts 
    Before the hurricanes, we normally transported between 300-350 dogs every year to the mainland U.S.. In just the last four months of 2017 alone, we were able to transport a record number of over 850 animals (including some cats!) off of the island to safety. As of today, that number has risen to over 1,500 animals since the storm. 
Chloe (left) was found chained up and abandoned in an empty house after Hurricane Maria. When we rescued Gigi (center) at an electrical plant, she was anemic and covered in mange. Stormy (right), was found wandering Dead Dog Beach the morning after Hurricane Irma. Now his family describes him as "the best thing that ever happened to us." All three of these dogs are celebrating their one year anniversaries of being hurricane survivors and finding families who will treasure them forever. You can read more of their stories at

  • Launched a new initiative called No Dog Left Behind
    An estimated 300,000 Puerto Ricans, and counting, have left for the mainland - many leaving behind their pets. Many families left under dire circumstances and could not arrange passage for their animals. Through this initiative we helped families who left for the mainland reunite with the pets they had to leave behind. Since September of 2017, we have reunited nearly 200 dogs with their families.
Coco, Maya, Gordo, and Max are just four of almost 200 pets who have been reunited with their families after being separated in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 
  • Increased our spay/neuter community outreach efforts 
    In the months after the storm, veterinary clinics were forced to shut down. In December, our heroic vets re-opened despite the lack of electricity and started performing surgeries with headlamps. Thanks to their determination to continue our spay/neuter voucher program and The Sato Project being a coalition partner in the islandwide Spayathon for Puerto Rico, we have helped facilitate over 1,100 spay/neuter surgeries for cats and dogs.  
Left: pet owners of Ceiba, Puerto Rico wait in line for their dog or cat to be spayed/neutered and given a round of vaccines at no cost during The Spayathon for Puerto Rico. Right: staff and volunteers are ready for the beginning of the Spayathon. Click here to read individual stories of pet owners who attended the Spayathon.

  • Distributed 69,000 pounds of humanitarian and animal relief supplies to other people and organizations across the island.  
Volunteers Carmen and Yadira with Chrissy preparing to distribute pallets of pet food to other organizations across the island. 

The crisis in Puerto Rico is far from over.  Recovery has been extremely slow. Electricity still remains unstable and thousands of residents are still waiting for help to rebuild their homes, or for reliable access to clean water. Families continue to evacuate the island, many leaving their pets behind, and thousands of unwanted puppies are being born into a life of suffering. Current numbers estimate that Puerto Rico is home to over 500,000 stray dogs. This crisis is unlike anything we have ever experienced and we continue to receive countless calls for help every day. For each one we respond to, we have to turn down twenty. 

Constantly facing this crisis on a daily basis can can be extremely overwhelming. But my small but mighty team continues to fight back. We refuse to give up on the dogs of Puerto Rico and are as committed as ever to our mission to create permanent change for the animals of this island. On this first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, we just want to say thank you: Thank  you to all of our partners who make our work possible, especially Wings of Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States, and The Greater Good Network. And thank you to you, our supporters and community for making it possible for us to respond to this crisis. 

When I first started rescuing on Dead Dog Beach, I rescued one dog at a time. Gradually, a few dogs a year turned into one dog a month, and then one a week. And now, together, we have saved over 1,500 lives in one year.  Thank you for not forgetting about the animals of Puerto Rico. Thank you for being in this fight with us. 

With gratitude,

Chrissy Beckles
President and Founder of The Sato Project

P.S. You can watch a video and read more stories about the lives that you helped change over the last year at

Banner photos by The Dogist

The Sato Project is dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico, where there are an estimated 500,000 strays. We have rescued over 2,500 dogs since our inception, rehabilitated them with the highest standards of veterinary care, and found them loving homes on the mainland U.S..  We are also working to make systemic change on the island through our Spay, Neuter, Vaccine and Microchip Program.

The Sato Project is a 501(c)3 organization relying entirely on
volunteers and tax-deductible donations for our operations.

"We fight so the dogs of Puerto Rico don't have to."