Every shelter pet has a story. Some have overcome extraordinary odds while others traveled great distances to get a second lease on life.
One of those dogs is Yuko: a rescue from Puerto Rico, brought to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Westbrook, Maine.
A volunteer from the All Soto Rescue group in Puerto Rico discovered Yuko and his three siblings abandonded on the local streets. The rescue center placed the four puppies in a foster home to nurse them back to health and prepare them for adoption.
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Foster mother Marta Delgado noticed his breathing and heart rate seemed irregular and he was frequently fatigued, even after napping
"I grabbed him and felt something on his little chest," she said. A visit to a veterinarian revealed Yuko had a heart defect, and needed an expensive surgery to save to his life.
Delgado created a GoFundMe page, and more than 100 people from around Puerto Rico and in the United States pitched in to raise the $5,000 she needed to pay for his surgery.
"I am the happiest person on earth," said Delgado. "Yuko is the perfect little dog that every family should have in their home," she added through tears.
Once he had the surgery, Yuko was flown to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in search of a forever home.
Because Puerto Rico has a 99 percent euthanasia rate, rescue centers like All Sato have partnered with shelters in the U.S. to place fostered pets in America.
"Here at the Animal Refuge League, we have a 99 percent placement rate – so it’s really life saving work," said ARLGP spokeswoman Jeana Roth.
Yuko was adopted on July 22, just one day after ARLGP announced he was looking for a new home.
But just because Yuko is no longer a contender for a forever, there will be several other Puerto Rican rescue dogs up for adoption at ARLGP during NBC’s Clear the Shelters campaign on Aug. 19.
"All of these dogs are so important to us," said Roth.