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Westhampton Beach animal rescue brings pets from Puerto Rico

Debbie Downes, animal care manager at Animal Rescue

Debbie Downes, animal care manager at Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in East Hampton, with a rescued dog she brought back from Texas, on Sept. 5, 2017. Nearly 60 dogs and cats were brought to Long Island from Texas shelters to make room for animals rescued during Hurricane Harvey. The animals will be spread out among area shelters. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Roughly 70 pets from Hurricane Maria-stricken Puerto Rico will have new homes after a Wainscott-based animal rescue agency brought them to Long Island for treatment and adoption Wednesday.

Aid workers from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons touched down at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach Wednesday afternoon with dozens of dogs and several cats they rescued during a 72-hour mission in Rincon, Puerto Rico, providing aid to pets at a local shelter that lost operations capacity during the hurricane.

While the mission was originally for 45 pets at the shelter, workers ended up taking an additional 20-plus pets abandoned during the storm, according to Scott Howe, the Wainscott agency’s executive director and chief executive.

The rescued pets, which Howe said “were mostly in good health,” will be treated for infections and parasites before they are ready for adoption via the Wainscott agency and assistance from other partnering shelters and agencies.

The agency has rescued 175 pets from hurricane-struck areas in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico in the last month. Howe said the agency is more heavily focused on promoting adoptions than normal so the animals could be adopted quickly. However, he said, the challenge was worth it.
“To be able to help where no one else was helping is rewarding, and that’s what drives us,” Howe said.

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