The Lost Souls of

There are 250,000 stray dogs in Puerto Rico, a US Commonwealth the size of Connecticut.

These stray dogs are called โ€œSatosโ€ by locals. They live short lives of neglect and abuse.

Dead Dog Beach is located on the South-East coast of the island. Dogs are dumped on the isolated beach every day.

Dead Dog Beach is the last resting place of many Satos who die at the hand of men: gang rituals, target practice, cars running over them. The list of abuse is endless.

Volunteering for The Sato Project, a dog rescue group based in New York City, I followed the dogs of Dead Dog Beach for over a year.

Some of them made it, lots of them did not. Their faces still haunt me.

www.SophieGamand.com @SophieGamand www.TheSatoProject.org

  • mombo

    So sad

  • karen

    This makes me so sad. Glad you were there for them.

  • crump

    I was recently in Puerto Rico noticed this. Heartbreaking, but beautifully captured.

  • jvkiela

    Haunting and heartbreaking. Powerfully composed portraits. Thank you for the work you do

  • jude_magee

    Your photographs are amazing, those poor innocent creatures, heartbreaking.

  • sophiegamand

    Thank you!

  • margiestrange

    Is there anything we can do to help?

  • Bodybuilding

    Follow me I'll follow back(:

  • lovemesimply

    How incredibly sad! That gave me chills. I had no idea about this. Bless the people who try to help them.

  • melanie_m

    Is there anything we can do? This problem is also evident in Guatemala

  • sophiegamand

    @margiestrange @melanie_m yes the problem is similar in most islands and South America and lots of tropical countries. It is due to lack of spay and neuter mostly and also lifestyle (people live outside and consider dogs wild being that should be free to roam). In PR several groups are helping the dogs. On Dead Dog Beach I recommend you to look at The Sato Project (www.thesatoproject.org). All the donations go straight to paying vet bills and transporting healthy dogs back to NYC for adoption.

  • margiestrange

    Thank you for sharing that info.

  • fleurishing

    I just donated...this breaks my heart.

  • melanie_m


  • AngelBaby

    This is so sad ๐Ÿ˜” I've been to Puerto Rico and didn't even know.

  • sophiegamand

    @fleurishing thank you so much! @Powda if you stay in San Juan or resorts or touristic areas you would never know. Some resorts even poison the dogs that come near or the animal control officers just pick the dogs up ASAP. The euthanasia rate is 99%. Almost nobody adopts in PR. 5 municipal shelters are full and just euthanizing all they can. :(

  • ingrid_3bs

    That's terrible!

  • koshka_bluez

    It breaks my heart. ๏ธThank you for sharing and actually doing something ๐Ÿ™

  • takahisaEn

    This is heartbreaking. Shelters in Singapore here are doing the best they can for the Singapore specials(mongrels) but it doesn't help that people are still abandoning their dogs (even in front of shelters, how shameless.) ugh.

  • sophiegamand

    @takahisaEn ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜”

  • bluecaribe

    This is why I donate to them every year. I don't understand the cruelty of people.

  • copperline

    Tragic. The thoughtless cruelty of (some) humans is staggering. Thank you for sharing this.

  • justez5683

    Thanks for this post, truly. I've witnessed this countless times in my work. It's a post like this, the ones that come across so beautifully, that draw attention to the topic, inspire change and create a sense of urgency. Great work!

  • sophiegamand

    @justez5683 thank you so much. I hope to continue this work.

  • me_and_orla

    So heartbreaking, & I had no idea.

  • thalema

    Breaks my heart ๐Ÿ’”

  • starbryte76

    I had no idea this place existed in Puerto Rico. When I went on a cruise to the Dominican republic my trip was ruined because I could not stand to see so many sick and homeless dogs. People are eating at all of these outside restaurants while starving dogs were looking for a scrap, kindness. It put me in a foul mood and I ended up getting all of this food and water in feeding all of the dogs I could while people laughed at me. I do not know how you have the strength. I would have been traumatized and angry

  • starbryte76

    Thank you for doing what you did. Is there some sort of a trap neuter return program going on? Are there people there feeding the dogs and helping them with medical care? I know this may sound kind of cruel but are there any humane euthanasia for the dogs too far gone?

  • sophiegamand

    @starbryte76 there are lots of private rescue groups doing what they can. On Dead Dog Beach itself it is The Sato Project. They rescue, vet and rehabilitate the dogs and fly them to New York for adoption. Spay and neuter program are tricky in PR. One of the main issue is that it is illegal to bring in vets from outside the island, making it almost impossible to organize large scale campaigns.

  • sophiegamand

    @starbryte76 Most groups also feel like if they take a dog off the street to neuter him, it would be cruel to put him back there. It is a dangerous life for these dogs.

  • starbryte76

    I understand about the trap neuter return now that I have read up on the dog beach problems. People will not leave them be. It seems to be a common theme in Third World countries/poverty-stricken areas that animals are second-class citizens. If you cannot eat them, get milk or eggs from them, etc. what good are they? I actually had a very deep conversation about this with a local vet in the Dominican Republic.

  • starbryte76

    I had no idea it was illegal to bring in that from outside of PR. What a crying shame. I'm sure so many would flock there! After what you just told me I have an even deeper respect and understanding.

  • starbryte76

    The dog in picture 13 . I have been thinking about him since I've seen him last night.

  • sophiegamand

    @starbryte76 that was Angel, my first Sato dog. My first time on Dead Dog Beach. He died in our arms.

  • kuakerrin

    Haunting but thank you so much for sharing.

  • copperline

    I just looked up this story again to share it with you @kuakerrin as your story had reminded me of this and I wanted to tag you into it in case you hadn't seen it - but you have! As you say, haunting...

  • arrow4christ

    It is so sad I would love to save and help them!!! ๐Ÿ’š

  • coronadelaurel

    What an amazing and heart wrenching story, poor countries struggle most with stray animals.

  • rhys_olivia

    Breaks my heart