BALTIMORE, Md. - As the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues, animals are also in dire need.
A number of animal welfare organizations have stepped in to help transport pets off the hurricane-devastated island and to shelters in different states, including Maryland.
The Maryland SPCA took in 20 dogs at around midnight on Saturday.
It was a long journey for the animals who once inhabited Puerto Rico. They were flown from the island to Florida then to New Jersey, and finally, driven down to Maryland
“Originally, we were planning on meeting them there Sunday morning but they had more shipments coming through, more transports coming through, and needed to make room. So, these guys were driven by the Humane Society of the United States to our facility where they got settled in and the next day we did vet checks on them to make sure everyone looks okay,” said Dr. Karen Burks, director of veterinary services with the Maryland SPCA.
Eleven dogs and nine puppies are starting to settle in. Several of them are experiencing health issues.
“We're hoping that with a little bit of TLC and time that these guys will be happy, healthy, adoptable pets in the next few weeks to months,” said Dr. Burks.
She suspects ringworm, which is treatable. Even so, the pups are considered the lucky ones. Many pets didn't survive Hurricane Maria and the shelters on the island took a big hit.
“They are out of pet food, there is no water, and the electricity is not up and running,” said Erin Robbins with Wings of Rescue.
The organization has helped facilitate around two flights a day, bringing seven tons of humanitarian aid down to Puerto Rico and leaving with planes full of animals.
“Many of the shelters here have been totally damaged. They've lost a lot of their pets and we're flying out the ones that were in the shelter prior to Maria and making room so they can take in the ones displaced and who are homeless,” said Robbins.
The organization's mission is ongoing as the island works to recover and rebuild.
“We want to continue to do these flights and save these pets. They've lost many and we want to save every one we can,” Robbins said.
Wings of Rescue has transported over 3,000 pets since Hurricane Harvey.
The Maryland SPCA hopes to have the 20 dogs available for adoption within the next several weeks.
If you'd like to donate to the Maryland SPCA, click here. They’re also in need of foster homes.
Wings of Rescue is accepting donations through their website. Click here for more information.