More than 100 dogs, cats rescued from Puerto Rico arrive in Bay Area

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It was a long haul, but they are finally here. More than 100 dogs and about two dozen cats who became homeless when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last month just arrived in Tampa Bay.

They landed at St. Petersburg Clearwater International Airport Tuesday night accompanied by weary volunteers from Suncoast Animal League.

The volunteers had flown to the island over the weekend in a rented cargo plane with 15,000 pounds of animal food and water which had been donated.

“The coolest thing is when bad things happen you have some really good people step forward and make thing happen,” said Rick Chaboudy, a co-founder of the league.

On Wednesday, dozens of volunteers scooted around a donated warehouse in Oldsmar. They bathed dogs, checked them for fleas and ticks and tried to make them feel at home.

The trip cost $125,000 which was paid for by Tampa Bay resident Helen Rich. Rich has 400 animals of her own, including champion show horses and more than 60 dogs. Many of them live on her estate in Odessa.

“Why do you have such compassion for animals?,” FOX 13 asked her.

Her answer was simple and direct.

“It was what I was born to do,” she replied.

Chaboudy hopes that most of the dogs and cats will be ready to be adopted in few weeks.

Dogtoberfest will be held at Highlander Park in Dunedin on Saturday, November 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information when it becomes available, check out Suncoast Animal League’s Facebook page.