I’d like to use today’s post to pay tribute to another “Accidental Boricua” – Christina Beckles, the fearless founder of The Sato Project. Today is the third anniversary of the Sato Project, an organization dedicated to saving the stray dogs or “satos” that are left to die at Playa Lucia, or Dead Dog Beach as it is more commonly and shamefully known.
Chrissy Beckles, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion and a native of Manchester, England discovered Dead Dog Beach in 2007 while visiting her husband, a professional stuntman, while he was filming on-location nearby. What she found was a beach littered with stray and abandoned dogs.
No dog walks to this beach. They are dumped there and left to die. Some have arrived in cardboard boxes – often a new mother with a litter of puppies. Some are just tossed out of moving cars. Many are injured or abused. Some have even arrived with gunshot wounds. When they are found, it often takes weeks or months for the volunteers to gain enough of their trust just to get close enough to rescue them.
Since discovering Dead Dog Beach, Ms. Beckles has been working with a group of local volunteers and a local veterinarian to rescue, rehabilitate, and then fly the dogs to their “forever homes” in the continental United States. To date, they have rescued more than 1,200 dogs. Why don’t they try to place these dogs locally? According to their website, “Currently the adoption rate in Puerto Rico is very low. ‘Satos’ are not revered on the island.”
This organization is working tirelessly to right a terrible and disgraceful wrong that has been perpetrated on this island for decades. I would also like to use this post as a way to implore Puerto Ricans to help this noble organization: please start by donating to this organization, which is working so hard to make Puerto Rico a better place. And if possible, it would be truly wonderful if we could start adopting and providing “forever homes” to these dogs right here in Puerto Rico.
I can personally speak to the rewards of rescuing a sato. Three years ago, my children found an abandoned dog in our backyard. He was covered with ticks and fleas, and extremely frightened. It was late at night, so I rushed him to an emergency vet clinic for care. The vet estimated him to be about 3 months old and felt that he had been out on his own for some time.
Today, that dog, Henry, is one of three dogs at our house. There have been all kinds of opinions about his breeding – part Lab, part Boxer, part Rhodesian Ridgeback, part Pit Bull. We don’t care. For us, he is 100% Puerto Rican Sato. We love Henry, and he loves us.
Ms. Beckles has noble goals not just for the satos she rescues, but also for Dead Dog Beach itself. “My goal is for it to be called by its real name, Playa Lucia, again someday,” she said. This should be the goal of every Puerto Rican, not just the one of a benevolent outsider who accidentally became a Boricua and makes a difference here every single day. Please help her. Donate.