PAW Returns to Puerto Rico

Meredith Orgel, Op-Ed Contributer

Due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria, Terrie Hayward, director of Positive Animal Wellness (PAW), was forced to relocate to Massachusetts with her animals in September of 2017. Positive Animal Wellness, an affiliate of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), is an animal training program based out of Rincon, Puerto Rico.

On January 11, the organization was ready to head back home. My aunt and I were fortunate enough to be invited to escort some of the animals back to Puerto Rico. We worked with two dogs, Blanca and George, and two cats, Mama and Eggie.

When I was first introduced to Blanca, a rescue dog, I was told that she was deaf. I learned some commands in sign language, such as sit, come, food, and stay so that I could communicate with her. She was extremely friendly and we became great friends.  

As the plane approached Puerto Rico, I could already see some of the damages caused by the hurricane.  The blue dots seen from the sky I would later find out to be tarps on houses that had been destroyed. The hurricane left many people homeless, without life’s basic necessities. As of today, the island is still healing.

When we landed, Blanca and Eggie were visibly afraid. We took a van from the airport to their home in Rincon, passing by many damaged homes along the way. I would later find out that most of the island is still without power, which I experienced firsthand.   

I spent three days with Blanca and the other animals to help them adjust to their homes. It was an amazing experience and I would do it again, given the opportunity.

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Meredith Orgel is a sixth grade student at Holbrook Middle-High School