The three-week old puppy yearns for his mother as the hot blazing sun in Puerto Rico beats down on him and his siblings. He resorts to the garbage surrounding them as a replacement for the toys they deserve to be teething on.
Malnourished, flea infested, neglected dogs are a common sight in Puerto Rico, but luckily junior Lily Levine is an active volunteer at the Lucky Dog Animal Rescue Organization. The organization was established to save animals in need, specifically cats and dogs. “I don’t do any sports and at Wootton it’s really difficult for me to dedicate myself to an activity if I can’t do a sport, so I started volunteering with Lucky Dog at the beginning of sophomore year and I fell in love with it,” Levine said.
The animals who are inhabitants of Puerto Rico are Lucky Dogs’ first priority for five days as they partner with PR Animals to save them. PR Animals is Puerto Rico’s version of Lucky Dog, without the part of having events to get dogs adopted. Due to Puerto Rico’s poor economy, the population of stray dogs has risen to a critical level. Not many citizens can afford to adopt or keep a dog due to related expenses.
This past January, Levine and other volunteer members of Lucky Dog went to Puerto Rico to help the stray and homeless dogs find homes by bringing most back to the United States. “Dogs in Puerto Rico are known as ‘Satos’, and they are in desperate need of care and attention as their lives depend on it,” Levine said.
Levine has been a volunteer at the organization for a year and has been fostering a dog herself for the past eight months. Her dog, Sasha, is an Australian Shepherd catahoula mix who suffers from fear aggression, which was most likely caused by the abuse she received from her previous owners.
Aside from volunteering at the organization, Levine has started her own Lucky Dog Animal Rescue Organization club here, which allows students to help raise money to help the dogs and attend events to raise awareness for animal adoption. “Students at Wootton could realize that they don’t have to be good at sports to be involved in an activity and volunteer work can change your life and be something you enjoy doing just past trying to get all your SSL hours and putting it on your college apps,” Levine said .
Levine also tries to advise people about puppy mills. Unlike most dogs at puppy mills, those at animal shelters will get killed if nobody adopts them. Levine is a strong advocate for dogs and their rights as part of the community because every life deserves a chance.