In 2015, nearly 25 dogs were transported from San Juan, Puerto Rico to New York, thanks to The Sato Project. One of those dogs, BamBam, was tested with Embark recently and his story was so good, we had to share!
The Sato Project’s rescues
Sato is a slang term for street dog that originated in Puerto Rico. The Sato Project helps homeless and, often sick, dogs find forever homes. The group specifically targets Playa Lucia or “Dead Dog Beach” located on the southeastern section of the island. The name of the beach accurately describes it, unfortunately.
“Some of the dogs are in bad shape even before arriving on the beach; they’re underweight, covered in fleas or infected with parasites. Others are perfectly healthy animals that appear to have been family pets,” according to CNN.
Many of the pups are reportedly so unhealthy that they may not have been able to walk to the area and were believed to have been dumped there along with trash. At times, there were up to 300 dogs on the beach, CNN reported.
Back in 2015, The Sato Project rescued three adolescent siblings that lived just outside of the beach area, weren’t in great shape, and wouldn’t allow humans to approach. The group spent about hours trying to coax the dogs closer with food and it eventually ended up working!
One special pup named BamBam was one of the dogs rescued. He was given his name immediately and taken to Candelero Animal Hospital to be checked out, just like all of the other rescues. It reportedly takes about 10 weeks for the pups to be rehabilitated. BamBam recovered fairly quickly, his fur mom Emily said.
“We are very lucky to have his rescue from Dead Dog Beach on film, as CNN was filming a story on The Sato Project at the time,” Emily explained.
Click here to watch that video and you will see BamBam at 1:07 standing between his two sisters.
Getting to know BamBam
BamBam lives in the Greater Boston area with another sato named Tequila and a cat named Dexter. Tequila’s companion passed away, causing him to become very depressed; that’s when Emily decided to adopt another dog. Emily says it took Tequila a few weeks to get used to BamBam but now the pair is inseparable.
BamBam is a goofy and affectionate dog who is always happy, according to his fur mom. He was scared of water at first, Emily told me, but now he loves to swim! He also enjoys naps and barking at men in hats. When it comes to toys, BamBam likes stuffed animals that he can destroy with his brother!
When asked what his favorite foods are, Emily said, “All of them!”
She went on to say that he still eats as if he was a street dog, despite being spoiled, and loves to dig up old crabs at the beach.
The Embark test
BamBam was tested with Embark this past spring and is a village dog through and through.
“Everyone had a different opinion of what breeds he might be so, of course, that was the driving factor,” Emily said of buying an Embark test. “It was kind of hilarious when the news came back that he was 100% village dog. Additionally, I was drawn to how comprehensive Embark was and was also looking forward to the age and weight predictions. When he was adopted, the rescue organization had predicted his age at 6 months but the paperwork from the vet in Puerto Rico said 3 years, which is a pretty significant discrepancy for a dog’s lifetime. His proportions are a little strange, so knowing his ideal weight was helpful to us and our vet.”
When asked if she was surprised by the results, Emily said it was a mixed bag.
“Initially, I thought there would be a breed breakdown like you see in other mutts and I did not know it was possible to get a 100% village dog result. However, given his backstory it really is not surprising,” she said. “We had done another DNA test for Tequila about 10 years ago, which was much more basic so the level of detail in BamBam’s Embark results was fascinating.”
Back to The Sato Project
It costs The Sato Project about $1,000 to rescue one dog, but every case is different.
Emily spoke very highly of the project, saying, “They do a lot of really great work and take many dogs in on the verge of death. BamBam was actually pretty healthy, if a bit undernourished. It is likely that he was part of a house pet’s litter and then abandoned with his siblings when they got too big. This is a common occurrence in Puerto Rico due to the lack of spaying and neutering of pets and the extremely large street dog population.”
The Sato Project has rescued over 2,800 dogs since they first launched in 2011. Their short-term goal is to recuse as many abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico as they possibly can. Their long-term mission is to see every sato living a happy life with a loving family.
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