A New York City-based nonprofit is working to rescue more than two dozen shelter dogs from Puerto Rico and bring them to the city, where they’ll be put up for adoption.
Tania Isenstein, chairwoman of the board of directors for Animal Lighthouse Rescue (ALR), said the organization’s shelter in Puerto Rico “took a direct hit” from Hurricane Maria and needs to be rebuilt.
“I went down over the weekend and met all these dogs. I snuck one back with me on the plane already,” Isenstein said, explaining why she decided to front the rescue mission for the organization, which specializes in rescuing stray dogs in Puerto Rico — commonly called satos — through its no-kill shelter, El Faro de los Animales.
While in Humacao, Puerto Rico, she surveyed the damage and began to figure out the logistics of getting 25 homeless dogs from two area shelters to New York.
“Virtually all of these dogs were in the shelter already, so what we’re doing is clearing the shelters so they can have the capacity to take in hurricane abandonments or separations,” Isenstein said.
A special team of rescue experts and veterinarians traveled to Puerto Rico Thursday to pick up the group consisting of dogs between the ages of 1 month and 6 years old and six kittens.
The animals are expected to arrive in the city on Saturday, where they’ll be placed with 35 local foster families until they find their forever homes. Some will be housed at Camp Canine, a pet-care facility owned by Isenstein on the Upper West Side.
“They all have different needs. One dog that we just need to confirm will still be arriving is a post-Maria rescue who we found locked in an area and his teeth had fallen out from trying to chew through metal,” Isenstein said, adding that the group also included a litter of 6-month-old Jack Russell mix pups and their mother.
To raise funds for the special rescues and help rebuild ALR’s Puerto Rico shelter El Faro de los Animales, Isenstein partnered with longtime Camp Canine client Jennifer Giamo, a nutrition consultant/trainer who runs NYC-based Trainers in Transit, to organize a Central Park fitness class.
“Fitness Unleashed” invites New Yorkers and their four-legged loved ones for a dog-friendly workout that is open to all fitness levels.
The Oct. 17 event will meet at Camp Canine at 46 W. 73rd St. for a short warm-up walk to Central Park, where Trainers in Transit will lead a 45-minute training circuit that includes exercises for Fido too.
“We’ll be doing puppy squats, where you squat holding your dog, bicep curls with the pups, run through some obstacle courses together and add some stairs into the mix,” Isenstein said. Giamo came up with creative names for the moves, like the “Ruff and Run,” “Barking Bicep Curl,” “Howl and Hurdle” and “Paws for Planks.”
The training session costs $35 in advance or $40 on the day of, and starts at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will be donated to Animal Lighthouse Rescue.