From Puerto Rican Dumpster to a Loving Chicago Home

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Serena when rescuedLittle Serena, was found in a Puerto Rican dumpster – her broken, decomposing back leg had wire and fabric wrapped around it to hold it together.  Sadly, this sweet girl was thrown out as trash.  A good Samaritan found her, and contacted Save a Sato (a shelter on the island).

They took Serena to a veterinary hospital where they immediately amputated her leg in order to save her life.  Save a Sato then reached out to As Good as Gold, a golden retriever rescue organization, for help in finding Serena a better life in the Chicago area.  Once medically clear, Serena flew to Chicago, where she got her second chance at life.

Throughout Serena’s entire ordeal, she always remained a sweet, kind and loving girl (even though she was in pain, fighting an infection, and healing from her amputation).  She did great in her foster home and adjusted quite well to having only 3 legs.  She loved to play with the other dogs and cats, and she LOVED to run.  She would run up and down stairs without a problem, and was able to turn on a dime.  In foster care, Serena recovered from her traumatic injury nicely, and she began to think things were pretty nice in the USA.

Serena’s life in America got even better when she was adopted by a wonderful family.  She now enjoys an abundance of petting, hugging, and attention from her humans, and has several cat and dog siblings.  She walks, runs, and helps work in the garden with her new family.  Serena uses a special harness to provide extra support while walking, and someday, she may need a brace for her good leg.  But for now, Serena is busy building up the muscle and strength in her other 3 legs.  Who needs that 4th leg anyhow!

Serena ready to leave hospital
Serena ready to leave hospital

One last tidbit about Serena –her name was changed to Mija to maintain a link to her Puerto Rican heritage.  Mija, is an affection term that often means “daughter” or “special little one”. Mija certainly is a “special little one”, and is loved very, very much.  Welcome to America Mija!


As Good as Gold, Golden Retriever Rescue of Illinois is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has rescued over 1,600 golden retrievers and golden mixes.  Incorporated in 2003 AGaG never turns down a dog due to age or medical conditions.

Save a Sato is a non-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to easing the suffering of Puerto Rico’s homeless and abused animals. “Sato” is slang for street dog. They rescue Satos from the streets and beaches, give them medical care, food and shelter and plenty of love. Once healthy, they send them to one of their shelter partners for adoption into loving homes.

17 thoughts on “From Puerto Rican Dumpster to a Loving Chicago Home”

  1. Great story about saving a life but please realize that Puerto Rico is the USA. Puerto Rico is America. So this rescued dog is no different from a dog rescued in California or Texas. Educate yourself before speaking, please.

  2. Ideally, it would be great if each state/country could sort out the ‘stray dog’ and ‘kill shelter’ issue. BUT the reality is that most places do not have the resources nor the ‘desire’ to consider the lives of dogs as important as other limited places. SO if the only logical solution is to send a dog to a place where it COULD live, what’s wrong with that. If we lived in an ideal world with everybody in it being animal lovers, that is when people could ‘sort’ themselves with this stray animal problem, but until then, let’s focus on the lives saved rather than the statistics and supposed logics behind things.

  3. As a breed specific rescue, As Good as Gold reaches out to a network of shelters across the state of Illinois, requesting that they contact us about any Golden or Golden-mix, of any age or medical condition. We follow up immediately to arrange transportation, an intake veterinary exam and a suitable foster home in which to place each and every dog we are able to obtain. However, we have a lengthy waiting list of potential adopters eager to welcome one of our Goldens into their loving families. The supply of in-state dogs simply doesn’t meet the demand, so we have turned to other opportunities, both within the continental US and beyond, to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home unwanted Goldens.

    Every Golden or Golden mix we free from a shelter opens up space for another dog of any breed. We are committed to rescuing Goldens and our volunteers and donors support this commitment. We are not a retail operation. Our adoption fee does not even come close to covering the cost of care for the average Golden we rescue. We spend an average of more than $800 on the each dog we rescue, making sure that they have the proper immunizations, are spayed or neutered, have been tested and treated for heartworm and other parasites. A good number of the dogs who come to us require extensive medical intervention for a full range of orthopedic conditions, injuries and infections to the tune of thousands of dollars. We rely on the dedicated and loving support of our volunteers to make up the shortfall.

    The Goldens we get from the Save a Sato program arrive fully vaccinated against things like rabies and distemper and have lived in foster homes in Puerto Rico long enough to be medically and behaviorally cleared before coming to As Good as Gold. The cost of flying these dogs is borne by willing volunteers who recognize the quality of this rescue effort.

    All of the As Good as Gold dogs, regardless of origin, spend at least a month in foster care, and often much longer, recovering from their medical issues and learning good behaviors that make them more adoptable and less likely to be returned. We want each adoption to be a success and we will always take back a dog that doesn’t work out in an adoptive home. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that none of the dogs we rescue ever ends up on the streets again, thereby adding to the already appalling number of homeless animals in the world today.


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