The Puerto Rican beach known as Playa Lucia used to be pleasant, clean and inviting. It had a pool, cabanas and the manufactured tropical smell of high SPF Coppertone. But the pool, tourists and beachgoers are long gone. Now it’s covered in garbage, refuse and, sadly, sometimes hundreds of dogs who have been discarded like so many bags of trash. It’s unofficially known as Dead Dog Beach but, thanks to the efforts of The Sato Project, those abandoned dogs — known as satos in local slang — are being rescued, rehabilitated and put up for adoption.
Chrissy Beckles, the founder and president of The Sato Project, and her volunteers sometimes spend hours trying to lure one dog off the beach and into a crate before taking them to a local animal hospital to begin the rehabilitation process, CNN reports. On average, it takes about 10 weeks and costs around $1,000 to rescue and rehab one dog. So far, Beckles says the nonprofit has rescued more than 1,400 dogs from the desolate beach, located in Yabucoa, and every dog is sent to a new home outside of Puerto Rico; many of them end up in new homes in New York.
“That’s the point where I always wish I could have a conversation with them, and that they could understand me,” Beckles told CNN. “[I want to tell them] that this is gonna suck, and you’re gonna be frightened, but it’s gonna be four hours. And once you land in New York… life just becomes spectacular.”