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Maine volunteers rescue more than 300 cats and dogs from Puerto Rico

Volunteers from the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland took part in a "Freedom Flight" with the nonprofit Wings of Rescue.

WESTBROOK, Maine — The Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland has more cats and dogs up for adoption, thanks to a life-saving effort over the weekend.

Last week, the ARLGP sent a handful of volunteers to Puerto Rico to help out with a "Freedom Flight" through the nonprofit Wings of Rescue. Together, they brought more than 300 cats and dogs to shelters in Maine and New York. Jeana Roth, the ARLGP's director of community engagement, told NEWS CENTER Maine this was one of the largest shipments yet 

"A lot of these pets have lived in shelters or sanctuaries for years," Roth said. "To give them this new beginning in Maine is really awesome."

The ARLGP received 61 cats and dogs in total. Canine Team Lead Faith Paglierani was one of the volunteers in Puerto Rico, visiting animal sanctuaries and shelters before flying the animals to the mainland. She said Hurricane Maria damaged a lot of these locations, so it has been hard for them to accommodate animals. She added there are about 500,000 stray dogs on the island right now since most are not fixed.

"I think seeing where they’re coming from just reinforces that drive to get them into homes, to be able to be that resource and that safe place to land for dogs that have started off on the wrong foot [and] didn’t get the best chance at life," Paglierani said.

"On Saturday, we saw a lot of scared animals, a lot of animals that weren't sure what was going on," Roth said. "We’ve seen them blossom in just two days. We’ve seen them play with toys, run around, give snuggles, ask for attention. To know that they’ll [soon] be walking out with families is really the best thing for us."

Roth said there are other rescue missions on the horizon since Maine shelters have such high placements. 

To learn more about the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland, click here.


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