Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bienvenido! 3 Homeless Dogs Arrive from Puerto Rico

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bienvenido! 3 Homeless Dogs Arrive from Puerto Rico

Article excerpt

"Why would you bring dogs back from Puerto Rico? Don't you have enough?"

My wife and I have heard that question many times since we returned with three small dogs from a family vacation in San Juan in March.

We have four big dogs - all Labrador retrievers - and aren't looking for more. We carried Snow White, Cher and Maya in two carriers through three airports and stowed them beneath seats on two jets so they could be adopted in Pittsburgh. Does that sound silly?

Not to Jennifer Bird, who runs Furkid Rescue in Bethel Park. She paid American Airlines $125 per carrier to transport the Maltese mix and Chihuahua, both 7-year-olds, and Maya, a 3-month-old Rottweiler mix. All three are now in foster homes and available for adoption at furkidrescue.org. The adoption fee is $250-$400 each and includes spaying and other medical treatment.

It doesn't seem silly at all to Leopoldina Roubian, who runs Barks of Hope (www.barksofhope.org) in Rincon, Puerto Rico. She sent about 700 dogs to the U.S. mainland last year, many before Hurricane Maria struck and stayed in mid-September to early October. At least 112 people died and thousands still have no electricity.

The problem of Puerto Ricans abandoning their pets started long before the hurricane - and it's only gotten worse.

"A lot of them are from people leaving the island. They leave them in abandoned houses or someplace they will be found. We are trying to save the ones who need to be saved," she said.

Ms. Roubian, who goes by Leo, says so far this year she has put more than 200 dogs on planes destined mostly for Pittsburgh, Seattle, Pennington, N.J., and Long Island, N.Y. She usually has between 25 and 60 dogs on her 12-acre farm in Rincon, a beach town in the northwest corner of Puerto Rico. It's a two-hour drive from Rincon to the San Juan Airport, where we met Ms. Roubian.

She helped put Snow White, Cher and Maya in two collapsible carriers that Ms. Bird had given us. Andre, her son visiting from Bermuda, petted the Chihuahua he knew as Hope. "Goodbye, Hope," he said. "I'll miss your crooked little walk." When the 4-pound dog was found in a parking garage, her rescuer thought she had been hit by a car. A veterinarian said it was an old injury and that she had had at least one litter of puppies.

We placed her in a carrier with Snow White, a Maltese mix with a sweet disposition and a sour odor. …

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