I Stand With My Pack’s, Peurto Rico Dog rescue mission is something I will never forget, even now as I write this I am struck with the oddest emotions. This place held such beauty, with its sandy beaches, clear blue skies and lush green mountains. But when you took a closer look, the beauty seemed to vanish behind a scene of silent suffering.
On the first day of our mission, our team headed out to a beach in Vega Baja. When we reached the beach, we pulled onto the sandy lot that overlooked a breathtaking beach with beautiful blue waves crashing against the shore, but there was something very out of place. Dogs littered the beach. While you looked out at this beautiful environment your breathe was stolen from you as took in countless amount of dogs that limped around, incessantly scratching. Some covered in sarcoptic and demodectic mange, skin infections that literally ate away their flesh and some with eyes infected so bad they laid curled up in little balls, almost entirely blind.
The suffering that was witnessed was profound but there was something else there too. It was companionship. The since of a pack. While the mangled and dying laid to rest those who were not as in bad condition would come over and rub muzzles, intertwine their bodies as if to comfort one another and remind them that even though they were forgotten by the world, they had each other.
Looking around at the amount of dogs we encountered just along this one beach was overwhelming. How were we possibly suppose to help them all. And even worse each one that needed help came with a medical bill that would cost hundreds if not thousands to repair with treatments and an assortment of surgeries for injuries and wounds.
Hundreds and thousands of dogs like Bo need help across the entire island. Every location we visited was worse than the next. It was overwhelming. We only had enough donations that allowed us to spay/neuter and rescue a certain amount of dogs. But when you looked around and you saw dogs hit by cars begging for help on the side of the road, where you not suppose to stop? Where you suppose to keep on driving like everyone else? Just another part of the daily commute to work?
How could you go and enjoy these breathtaking beaches with your family and watch dogs with open wounds crawling through the sand trying to escape the sun, desperate and pleading for help. Where you suppose to look the other way? The blindness that I saw from so many people who watched these dogs suffer daily baffled me. It seemed as if I had walked into a beautiful nightmare.
There were so many times we sat down and felt this immense sense of hopelessness. You wanted to save them all. You wanted to comfort them all but it was impossible. It was in those moments that I realized there was no way people on the outside could possibly rationalize the seriousness of this situation.
The only hope for the majority of strays we encountered were a few dedicated women who sacrificed so much of their own lives to make these dogs lives a little more humane. We cried with these women, we felt the hopelessness they felt as we saw the amount of love and time they invested in helping save lives. They were all alone. Both the dogs and the people that cared for them. No one helped them. No one cared. We saw all of this and it was like a dagger in our hearts.
Witnessing this pain first hand, I have never been more grateful to be apart of such an organization like I Stand With My Pack. To have an opportunity to make a difference, even if it was only a small one.
These women, these organizations, these little souls who were completely defenseless and suffering, it crushed me and at the same time made me stronger. I had to be, we all had to be, there where just to many depending on us.
The beautiful women who made up our rescue team, each of them encompassing such a sense of selflessness, we were a pack, we stood together just as the pack we saw on the beach, we never gave up, every heartbreaking life that was thrown our way we all worked together to figure out how to save them.
There was one night after an exhausting day filled with moments of triumph and moments of heart wrenching sorrow, we sat outside of this apartment we rented to house the dogs who where healing from surgeries and I looked around and it was one of the most intriguing scenes.
A group of around ten women, all different ages, all different races, many from all different parts of the world, sat on the ground with some of the stray dogs curled up next to us and we talked, we cried, we laughed and even with a language barrier between most of us, we didn’t need words to communicate.
That night we all spoke the same language, one that was spoken with feelings and emotions, for all of us knew how much pain, how many silently suffered every single day. In those moments we knew each other in a way that didn’t require words because all of us had seen something that most could not even imagine.
This beautiful environment had an immense lack of empathy. We had to dig very deep to find it. Looking back at this trip, knowing that even as I sit here writing these words, those beautiful women we encountered are on their feeding routes. Spending the little money they have to provide food and clean water to the satos of Puerto Rico.
My heart aches knowing that so few care, but my heart is also full of hope that many of you will see our pictures and videos, some of you may read these words I am writing and you will help end the suffering for hundreds of thousands of lives. What I hope we all will remember is that while one person may only be able to make a small difference, hundreds of small differences can make a big difference.