United States

Puerto Ricans Reunite With Pets After Fleeing From Hurricane Maria

"Look at all this happiness. I mean, those tears, that’s what it’s all about," one animal rescuer says

The disaster left behind by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico forced thousands of families to leave the island and come to the U.S.

More than 140,000 Puerto Ricans have already left and some were forced to leave behind special members of their families: their pets.

On Saturday, some of those families were able to see their furry friends again. Twenty-eight pets arrived by plane to the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport Saturday afternoon from San Juan.

“This is like a roller coaster for me,” dog owner Eddie Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez relocated to South Florida from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He made the tough decision to leave his pit bull Maya behind with his parents. Financial strains after the storm made it nearly impossible to get Maya back in his arms.

"We couldn’t find basically any option because of her pit bull breed, commercial airlines don’t do it. You have to go to a private company and they were charging about $1,000," he said.

But now, because of the work of the American Humane Society, Wings of Rescue and Humane Society of Broward County, reunions are feasible.

"Look at all this happiness. I mean, those tears, that’s what it’s all about," said Ric Browde of Wings of Rescue.

Wings of Rescue's stated mission is "to fly dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters where they face a perilous future to empty shelters where they will not only be safe - but quickly adopted from."

This was the organization’s first doggy delivery since the Category 5 hurricane. Another plane will arrive on Monday.

If your dog is part of the Wings of Rescue program and you have questions about the status of your pet, you can inquire here.

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