Dear Sato Supporter,

When Hurricane Dorian threatened to hit Puerto Rico at the end of August, my team and I sprang into action: we stowed all dogs safely, put an emergency plan in place, and then, we waited. When Hurricane Dorian exited without causing any serious damage, we let out a sigh of relief. But that relief quickly dissipated as we watched with sadness as Dorian devastated the Bahamas. We know what that pain and fear is like. For Hurricane Maria survivors, Hurricane Dorian brought all that anxiety and fear rushing back, and served as a stark and somber reminder that another deadly storm could come again at any time.

However, my mighty team and I remain #satostrong and confident that we will be prepared no matter what comes our way. I can't believe tomorrow marks two full years since Hurricane Maria drastically changed our lives. While the fight is long from over, this community has achieved a lot to be proud of over the last two years. You can read about our accomplishments in a newly published report by clicking here. Or, keep reading below to catch up with some of the very first dogs we flew off the island after Hurricane Maria, and to see where they are now.

In gratitude,

-- Chrissy Beckles, President and Founder

Hurricane Maria - Two Years Later
Left: Thousands of houses, like this one in Yabucoa, still have 'temporary' blue tarps as roofs. Right: Chrissy Beckles arrives at a beach to rescue a litter of puppies in dire need of medical care. The numbers of unwanted litters being born and suffering in the streets are still rising.
September 20, 2017 is a date that will live in infamy in Puerto Rico's history forever. Two weeks prior, Hurricane Irma had already caused serious damage to sections of the island and left one million people without power. The island was still recovering when Hurricane Maria arrived and brought even more destruction and devastation. The entire island was left in the dark (nearly three million people) in what became the longest blackout in U.S. history. Overnight, hundreds of thousands of residents were left homeless. Thousands more were left without access to basic necessities like safe drinking water and medical care. Hurricane Maria officially claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people.

For many of us still living on the island, Hurricane Maria never ended.  The power grid remains extremely unstable, and outages are still a weekly occurrence in our team’s homes and veterinary offices, sometimes lasting as long as 24 hours. Tens of thousands of island residents are still living under FEMA-distributed blue tarps, instead of roofs. The healthcare system is fragile and under-funded. Food insecurity rates for families in Puerto Rico are estimated to be over triple that of the mainland. According to U.S. Census data, at least 130,000 people left the island after the hurricane. Since the slow recovery process has brought little improvement to job security or quality of life, many people are still leaving.  And as more people leave the island and/or struggle to survive themselves, more pets are being left behind, neglected, or abandoned. The numbers of unwanted litters being born in the streets are continuing to snowball. But The Sato Project team is still here, fighting for the animals of Puerto Rico has hard as we can. We are incredibly grateful for our supportive community that has helped us continue to step up and fight back. In the two years since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, we have:

  • Greatly increased our rescue and rehabilitation efforts and have flown over 2,000 dogs off the island to new lives on the East Coast
  • Dramatically expanded our spay/neuter efforts: we have spayed/neutered and vaccinated over 4,600 dogs and cats through our own spay/neuter community voucher program and our partnership in The Spayathon for Puerto Coalition
  • Reunited almost 200 dogs with their families who had to evacuate the island through our 'No Dog Left Behind Program'
  • Distributed over 100,000 lbs of humanitarian and animal disaster relief supplies to other people and organizations across the island.

The recovery process is ongoing and we still have a long way to go. But just like the satos of Puerto Rico themselves, we remain strong and determined to keep fighting. 

When Hurricane Dorian arrived at the end of last month, our team was ready. We had an emergency plan in place and we were prepared for the worst. And in every moment of preparing for Hurricane Dorian, we were incredibly grateful for the recent success of our Mission Possible 10. Only one week prior, this mission saw 240 animals evacuated off the island to safety. Thanks to our community's efforts, all 240 of those lives were saved just in time before another storm had a chance to risk their lives.

Puerto Rico was lucky that Hurricane Dorian came and went without any serious harm. But this mega-storm served as a testament to our readiness plans and our determination to be prepared for whatever comes our way. No matter what happens this hurricane season, or every hurricane season to follow, we will to keep saving as many lives as we can.
Just one week before Hurricane Dorian threatened Puerto Rico with yet another potentially deadly storm, we flew 240 rescue animals off the island to safety on Mission Possible 10. Our volunteers could not wait to welcome them to the mainland. Photos by NYC Pet Photographer
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Where are they now?
Meet some of our very first hurricane survivors and see what their lives are like now.  
Just nine days after Hurricane Maria’s devastation threw the entire island into chaos and darkness, our small but mighty team managed to organize a Freedom Flight for 60 dogs. It was the most emotional transport we had ever done. As we watched our first group of survivors fly off the island to safety, we knew that the battle was just beginning. But we also knew that our spirit had not been broken. These dogs had survived not one, but two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, in the span of only a few weeks. But now they were headed to lives of love, comfort, and safety. Hurricane Maria took away so much, but it did not take away our determination to keep fighting for these amazing dogs.

To help mark the two year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, we are celebrating the journey of these 60 lucky dogs. Below are just a few of their stories. You can find more on our website at
As the eye of Hurricane Maria hurled over Dead Dog Beach, nearby security guards reported they could hear howling. The next morning, our rescue team went to the beach to see what was left of it. Once they got there, they found Luna and her mom. By some miracle, they had survived. Both dogs were immediately scooped up and taken into safety. Luna flew to our shelter partner Animal Haven only nine days later. As soon as she knew satos had arrived, her Puerto Rican mom-to-be rushed over there to adopt one. There, she saw sweet Luna, with her incredible ears, and knew she had to take her home. Now, her mom says, “We’re so obsessed with her its insane! She's brought so much love and happiness to our family. She is the happiest, friendliest dog I've ever met and can't imagine life without her. She comes with us virtually everywhere, we love seeing her experience new and exciting things -- seeing life through her eyes is truly amazing.” 
Our volunteer, Elia, found Gromit (formerly known as Orson) right in front of her house the morning of Hurricane Irma. He was disoriented, starving, and in shocking condition. He was even missing an eye. But he was rescued just in time to ride out the storm with her in safety. When Hurricane Maria came two weeks later, he was able to survive a second time, thanks again to Elia and her family. Elia, her husband, her mom, her four other dogs, plus Gromit all rode out the hurricane together huddled in a walk-in closet. After taking his Freedom Flight, tiny Gromit found his way to a wonderful family of other rescue animals, including two large dogs (of whom he is the boss!), two horses, and two cats. He was renamed Gromit after his mom’s stepfather’s favorite show, Wallace & Gromit. But we also know him as our one-eyed wonder dog. He is currently working on becoming a therapy dog. His mom says that he has a magical way of calming everyone he meets, and says that Gromit is the “bravest, kindest, biggest hearted dog I’ve ever met.” He often joins his mom for her work at weddings, cocktail parties and photo shoots. She often calls him her “little rockstar.”
Emmy (formerly known as Irma) was found as a tiny puppy with her two siblings on Dead Dog Beach the day after Hurricane Irma. All signs indicated that they were newly abandoned . After her Freedom Flight, Emmy went straight into the arms of a new family who couldn’t wait to welcome her. From all of her trauma, poor Emmy had severe anxiety and needed a lot of love and care to help her adjust. But her new family didn’t hesitate to do everything they could to help her get better, even taking her to a special Behaviorist Veterinarian. And now they say, “What a joy it has been watching Emmy grow and develop into a beautiful wonderful little girl who gives everyone kisses.” Around the same time of getting approved to adopt Emmy, her mom was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and was beginning her own difficult journey. Now her mom says, “ Seeing Emmy fight and her determination to get better renewed my own resolve to stay positive and to fight. I’m not sure who helped who, but I can tell you this, we are both fighters and I will win my battle with my little girl by my side.” 
Little Archie (fka Ulysses) was rescued from a municipal shelter with a broken front leg. After Hurricane Maria, our team in Puerto Rico was hesitant to send him on his Freedom Flight since he was not fully healed. But for his own survival, we knew getting him off the island was a first priority. Fortunately, we were able to find a family willing to complete his veterinary care and give him the time and love he needed to recover. Now, two years later, he is long recovered and, “perfect,” his family says. He spends his days hanging out with his family, snuggling on the couch, and taking long walks on the beach.
Indy (fka Katya) was found on Dead Dog Beach with her two sisters right after Hurricane Irma. After she took her Freedom Flight, she went to a foster family who were also recent adopters of another sato. After Hurricane Maria, they really wanted to do something to help, so they signed up to foster. When she first arrived, Indy was extremely stressed after everything she had experienced in the previous few weeks. Then suddenly, her foster dad unexpectedly lost his job right after she arrived and he became very stressed too. But that shared stress transformed into a shared special bond. Her dad says,“ We were both hurting, and in our pain, we were able to heal each other.” He was able to devote much of his time to helping her adjust to her new life and, in the process, she helped him adjust too. When another family expressed interest in adopting Indy, her foster dad instantly realized that he could never let her go. He says, “I was never someone who really understood the whole ‘dog is man's best friend’ thing, or how close you could be with an animal. Until I got Indy. She’s taught me what unconditional love truly is. And how to be present… and not to take a single moment with the ones we love for granted."

The Sato Project is dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico, where there are an estimated 500,000 stray dogs. With only nine shelters on the island with over a 90% euthanasia rate, we have rescued over 3,500 dogs, 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 permanent change on the island through community outreach and a Spay, Neuter, Vaccinate and Microchip Program.
"We fight so the dogs of Puerto Rico don't have to."