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Ariel: Former Puerto Rican Stray, Now Beloved Family Member

Last month, Humane Rescue Alliance veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Hathaway, was on the ground in Puerto Rico supporting the second round of Spayathon for Puerto Rico, in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States. There, she met volunteer Angela. Angela runs an informal rescue and foster program for abandoned dogs in her town of Fajardo. Angela spoke of dogs being dropped off at her doorstop and rescuing abandoned litters from a graveyard. She was even given a puppy at the Spayathon!

When Dr. Hathawaylearned that Angela was housing 32 foster dogs, she decided then that she would bring one of those dogs back to HRA. Though all the dogs in Angela’s care were special in their own way, 6-year-old Ariel stuck out to her. She had already been in Angela’s care for a couple of years, she was already vaccinated and spayed, and it seemed like she would be calm enough for a plane ride back to DC. Plus, she was incredibly sweet and sat in Dr. Hathaway’s lap for the entire trip.

Shortly after their arrival to DC, Ariel slipped out of her collar and darted away. Just like that, she was lost in DC’s Navy Yard neighborhood.

For the next five hours, in the middle of the night, Dr. Hathaway and HRA animal control officers searched for any sign of the little dog from Puerto Rico. The next morning, HRA activated its Missing Animal Response Team (M.A.R.T.), a lifesaving program aimed at finding HRA animals who go missing from newly-adopted homes, caregivers, and foster homes. This team hung hundreds of posters, distributed “Lost Dog” business cards, and searched bushes, streets, and construction sites.

After 24 hours of no Ariel sightings, Zita Macinanti, who oversees HRA's M.A.R.T. program, enlisted the help of Dogs Finding Dogs, a nonprofit organization that uses search and rescue dogs to find lost animals. Bolo, with help from his handler Janel, picked up Ariel's scent and narrowed the search area to two blocks.

On Monday night, almost 48 hours after Ariel went missing, a good Samaritan spotted her, recognized her from the M.A.R.T. flyers, and immediately called animal control. Soon enough, HRA's Officer Stern was able to find Ariel and get her safely into his van. Despite the time - it was 2:30 a.m. - Macinanti called Dr. Hathaway with the good news.

“Losing Ariel was one of the scariest things I have experienced in a while,” Dr. Hathaway said. “I was so impressed by the M.A.R.T. system and how fast HRA took action. Ariel was found within 48 hours of getting lost and within 40 hours of the M.A.R.T. activation.”

Despite her scary ordeal, Ariel thrived while in foster with Dr. Hathaway. Between couch lounging, running meetings at the HRA medical center, and hanging out with her new kitty friend, Ariel stole the hearts of Dr. Hathaway's parents. She's now adopted and living a life of luxury, a long way from a Puerto Rican street dog.



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