Hundreds of homeless pets that were abandoned in Puerto Rico are now getting the chance to find loving homes in the United States.
Pet welfare groups The Sato Project and Wings of Rescue worked with Austin-based company Tito's Handmade Vodka to fly 300 dogs and cats from Puerto Rico to White Plains, New York and Portland, Maine.
According to the organizers of the project, adoptable animals are in high demand in the locations the pets are being flown to.
The pets landed in the US on August 27, where they either met with their new forever families, or were transported to local shelters. Each animal was accompanied by a health certificate, met all vaccination requirements, and will be spayed or neutered before being placed into a new home.
Project organizers say no local pets will be displaced by the arrival of these flights.
Dog from Puerto Rico meeting its new owner in the US (The Sato Project)
The Sato Project, an organization that regularly works to rescue abandoned animals in Puerto Rico and place them in homes in the US, worked with several other organizations to retrieve animals from the island's severely overcrowded shelters to be flown overseas. Some stray animals were also rescued along beaches and streets.
Puerto Rico continues facing an upward trend of stray animals. There are currently nearly half a million stray dogs on the island.
Funding for the flights came from multiple individual donors as well as a donation from Tito's Vodka for Dog People Program.
Tito's held a ‘Dogs Named Tito’ mixer in Austin a few months ago to raise money for the donation. Austinites were invited to bring their furry friends named ‘Tito’ to mingle and take photos at the Tito's retail store.
A rescue puppy aboard one of the flights from Puerto Rico to New York has been deemed the official mascot of the rescue operation. He has been named ‘Tito,’ in recognition of the support and funding that came from Tito's Vodka.
Tito is now at an animal shelter in Manhattan, ready to find his fur-ever family.