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Flying Out of PR on AA? Be a Sato Escort & Help a Dog in Need

Flying Out of PR on AA? Be a Sato Escort & Help a Dog in Need

Posted on Jun 7th, 2009 by Gwenn • Updated on Sep 5th, 2009

[photo] Stray puppies in Luquillo

Anyone who visits Puerto Rico can’t help but notice that we have a stray dog problem. These strays, which are usually mixed breed dogs, are locally called satos (that’s local slang for "street dogs"). These scared, lonely, hungry and sometimes injured animals are everywhere around the island.

The stray problem is due to lack of education and affordable spay/neuter programs, along with inadequate animal control and animal shelters. So the animals are left to fend for themselves along streets and at beaches, where they multiply rapidly. Many get hit by cars or die of hunger. It is a heart-breaking situation.

But officials in Puerto Rico are finally seeing the light — there are now stronger laws against animal abuse, and new animal control units & shelters are being set up. Education about animal population control and low cost neutering are in the works. Hopefully these measures will help. The Animals Need Your Help Now!

But the animals need help now. Currently, there are a number of wonderful, non-profit organizations on the island that help the animals. All Satos Rescue, Manos por Patas, Save a Sato, Four Paws at a Time and Amigos de los Animales are just some of them. They rescue dogs from beaches, streets, or anywhere across the island of Puerto Rico. They give the dogs immediate food, veterinary care, shelter and lots of love. With the help of volunteers, these dogs are rehabilitated, sometimes at the facility, sometimes in foster homes. When the dogs are healthy and ready, they are sent to partner shelters in the continental US, where they get adopted into loving homes.

{photo] Stray puppy missing a leg

It is a wonderful program, but it has one major obstacle. Since 9/11, Federal law does not permit animals to travel on commercial flights without having a corresponding ticketed human passenger as an escort.

So sending the dogs is not simple any more — they need traveler’s help. The dogs have to travel on someone’s ticket as additional luggage.

Do you think that, maybe, you can help out and be that someone?

How Can I Be An Escort?

These organizations have made the process of being a dog escort very easy. There is no additional cost to you as the escort and it requires very little time or effort on your part. The organizations are 100% responsible for the dogs at all times — making sure they have all the necessary shots and paperwork, getting them to the airport, taking them through all the various inspections and taking care of them if the flights are delayed or canceled. The only thing you, as an escort, have to do is meet the representative of the rescue organization at the airport and present yourself to a ticket agent to confirm that you are actually going to be a passenger on the flight and that you are OK with the dogs being on your ticket.

What Airlines? What Cities?

[photo] Stray puppy in Puerto Rico

The organizations only use American Airlines to ship the dogs. Any AA-ticketed passenger over the age of 18 can be a dog escort. And each passenger can accompany more than one dog. Though these groups have sent the dogs all over the US, they usually need escorts on flights out of SJU that are going to the cities of Chicago, Hartford, Boston, Baltimore, Washington DC, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, Miami and Orlando. They need direct flights, but they may be able to work something out with any travel plan. So no matter where you are headed to on American Airlines, please contact them and see if you can help.

OK. So What Do I Need To Do?

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