These pups are ready to bowl you over.
Two pooches rescued from Hurricane Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico are being featured in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl on Sunday, where some of the cutest four-legged football players try for their own gridiron glory.
Kaleb Jr. and Archer, two mixed breed bundles of fluff, have an even greater mission. They are ambassadors for the Sato Project, a nonprofit that finds homes for Puerto Rico’s stray dogs.
Working with humanitarian efforts to bring water, generators and other badly-needed supplies to people, the Sato Project has been able to fly about 1,000 dogs out of Puerto Rico since September. The group has helped reunite 183 pets with their families who were forced to leave them behind.
“On top of all the stray and abandoned animals there has been an enormous increase in the number of puppies being born,” said Chrissy Beckles, founder of the Sato Project. “It’s overwhelming.”
Having Kaleb Jr. and Archer in the Puppy Bowl means vital exposure for the group, which needs volunteers — especially adopters and foster families — since it does not have a shelter.
Crooner and talk show host Harry Connick Jr., is currently fostering one of the group’s dogs. And another group in need of foster care is expected to fly in at the end of the month.
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give a rescue dog,” said Beckles, who lives in Puerto Rico and in New York City. “You are helping them prepare for the next stage of their journey. And you enable me to go rescue another one.”
Both pups have found loving forever homes since that hectic flight from Puerto Rico in September.
Kaleb Jr, renamed Murphy, lives with Allyson Merritt and Andrew Spielberg, who run Gracie’s Luncheonette in upstate Leeds, New York.
“He loves making new friends, greeting customers at the restaurant, picking tomatoes in the garden, trying to sneak a dry-aged ribeye when we’re not looking, and chasing our cat Milton around the house,” Spielberg told amNewYork. “We couldn’t be happier and definitely feel like we were meant to find him!”
Archer was renamed Maddox and lives in upstate New York with Ashley Zink and her husband, where he enjoys going for long walks and exploring.
“He is such an adorable puppy, super loving and ended up getting along well with our older dog, Lagan,” Zink told amNewYork. “He’s also a huge fan of belly rubs, always rolling over and giving us puppy dog eyes for more.”
Beckles said these success stories keep her motivated.
“That’s my fuel to go rescue the next one,” she said.