New Jersey is among the states into which the dogs are being distributed for adoption.
South Florida’s population just went up by 205 — dogs, that is.
The animals, ranging from puppy to senior, came here from Puerto Rico, where overcrowding in the shelters means dogs are being euthanized at an alarming clip.
Animal welfare advocates seeking to help made the arrangements for the dogs to come stateside.
“The shelters in Puerto Rico have no choice,” Kimberly Alboum, director of policy engagement and shelter outreach for the Humane Society of the United States, told ABC News. “They run out of room and, unfortunately, they have to euthanize for space. It’s heartbreaking for the staff and it’s devastating because these animals are all highly adoptable.”
Dog overpopulation is a constant struggle in Puerto Rico. Shelters are poorly funded and spay/neuter rates are low. It’s not uncommon to see packs of dogs wandering the communities. Animal advocates say things are getting a little better, but even so, the poor economy had led many residents to leave Puerto Rico, often abandoning their pets.
“People are leaving the island in droves because they can’t afford to live here,” said Christina Beckles, founder of the Puerto Rico-based Sato Project, which was part of the recent airlift to Florida. “I would never condone someone abandoning an animal, but I understand.”
This latest effort is believed to be the largest number of dogs rescued in a single trip.
The dogs were checked by veterinarians, taken to the San Juan airport and then flown in by Wings of Rescue.
Nervous after landing in Fort Lauderdale, volunteers transferred one plane of animals to waiting vans. They will be distributed to shelters around the state. The other plane flew on to North Carolina, where the dogs will be transferred to a number of shelters there and farther north.
About two dozen ended up at a facility run by the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale.
“They’ll all get adopted,” shelter director Mary Steffen said. “They will go fast.”