Dogs from Puerto Rico arrive at BVSPCA

Puerto Rico’s dogs get a lift from the hurricane zone in Puerto Rico to Chester County.
Puerto Rico’s dogs get a lift from the hurricane zone in Puerto Rico to Chester County. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
Jeff Boehmer, Brandywine Valley SPCA volunteer, helps transport three dogs from the Puerto Rico hurricane zone to Chester County.
Jeff Boehmer, Brandywine Valley SPCA volunteer, helps transport three dogs from the Puerto Rico hurricane zone to Chester County. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

WEST GOSHEN >> Brandywine Valley SPCA kennel attendant Sal Inrassia of Thorndale has already chosen a new best friend.

Fluffy is one of 43 new canine visitors arriving Monday night, at the West Chester BVSPCA, from storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

More than 120 pets had already arrived at the West Goshen shelter from hurricane zones in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico since major hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria ravaged those areas.

All the incoming pets were shelter dogs prior to the hurricanes. The pets were shipped out to make space in hurricane area animal shelters and for local pets to easier reunite with their owners.

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Inrassia rode the transit vehicle packed from floor to ceiling with barking dogs after spending three nights in New Jersey with the transplanted pets.

He hopes that the dog he expects to rename either Ethel or Stella will make friends with his elder-pooch Isaac.

Inrassia said that older pets are not as easily adopted, but he hopes that 9-year-old Fluffy will get along with his current household canine resident.

Both dogs enjoy massages. Fluffy has a skin condition and Isaac suffers from arthritis after a bout with Lyme disease.

Fluffy, a 39-pound terrier mix, will make a good companion and good friend for Isaac, the year-long shelter employee said.

“She’ll be a buddy for him,” he said. “She can help him and he can help her.

“She will keep him active.”

Michele Boehmer is a volunteer and helped unload the van.

“With the suffering that the people in these areas are going through, it’s even worse for the dogs,” she said. “It’s uplifting for those of us who volunteer here every day.”

The dogs were transported, from a pool of more than 600 transplanted Puerto Rican pets in Madison, New Jersey, where a temporary shelter was staffed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Over the past month, the BVSPCA welcomed more than 120 pets.

The dogs will receive exams, medical care, and transport. The shelter runs additional shelters in New Castle, Georgetown and Dover, Delaware which will house the rescue dogs.

Linda Torelli, BVSPCA marketing director, said the West Goshen facility is a high volume, open admission, no-kill shelter. She also said there is a 92 percent euthanasia rate for sheltered animals in Puerto Rico.

“There’s a very serious street animal problem and overpopulation of cats and dogs,” she said.

Already, 80 percent of the original BVSPCA animals airlifted from hurricane areas have been adopted and found forever homes. Torelli said that none have been returned.

“The community has really come out to adopt and spread the word, which makes more space to save animals from the hurricane zones,” she said. “It’s really time for (the animals) to get a second chance.”

The shelter is near capacity with 125 dogs and 75 cats.

Ten members of the BVSPCA team recently took a week-long trip to Houston to administer medical care and intake protocols at a temporary shelter.

The Puerto Rican dogs should be happy to end up in West Goshen.

“We didn’t hesitate when asked to help the animals of Puerto Rico,” said Adam Lamb, BVSPCA CEO. “The devastation and the impact on the animals left in its wake is heartbreaking.

“We’re proud to collaborate with so many amazing organizations that are coming together at this critical time.”

Many pets are already available for adoption.

The BVSPCA asks for the community to help support relief efforts by donating at bvspca.org/donate or by mail at Brandywine Valley SPCA, 1212 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester PA 19380.