LEESBURG, VA – Thirty-four stray dogs, rescued from one of Puerto Rico’s most impoverished regions, will be granted new leases on life this weekend thanks to extensive coordination between The Sato Project and global aircraft charter broker Paramount Business Jets (PBJ).
Since 2011, The Sato Project has rescued and rehabilitated over 1,500 dogs from Yabucoa’s horrific “Dead Dog Beach.” After providing urgently needed veterinary care, project volunteers arrange flights to transport the dogs to the United States for adoption.
When prior arrangements for an August 27 flight fell through earlier this week, Sato Project founder Chrissy Beckles reached out to PBJ charter expert Scott Lebovitz with an urgent call for assistance.
“Scott has been amazing throughout this process,” Beckles said. “From the beginning it was clear that he wasn’t just thinking about finding an aircraft to transport these 34 dogs; he was equally concerned about ensuring their health, comfort, and welfare.”
In less than a day, Lebovitz vetted and booked an aircraft operator with considerable experience in transporting live cargo, and arranged a travel schedule to ensure cooler temperatures on the ground for the animals while the selected aircraft made a required fuel-stop enroute to its destination in Morristown, NJ.
Lebovitz noted the particular challenges of arranging this trip compared to PBJ’s standard, human clientele. That included working with Beckles on a schematic (“like a giant game of Tetris”) to arrange the kennels so that each dog’s safety and comfort would be preserved onboard the aircraft. He also coordinated with the team to ensure an early-morning departure from San Juan, and a timely arrival in Morristown.
“It was also important that the flight land at a smaller airfield, so that precious time wouldn’t be lost in a line of other aircraft waiting to taxi to the ramp,” he added. “We also had to make sure that the volunteers could drive up to the aircraft to pick up the dogs.”
From Morristown, volunteers with The Sato Project will work to find ‘Forever Homes’ for the rescued animals. “We fight for these dogs,” said Beckles, an amateur boxer and former Golden Gloves champion. “Give me an underdog, and I will hold their head in my hand and ask them to fight. It is a mission of love to find homes for these precious doggies.”
Richard Zaher, founder and CEO of Paramount Business Jets, commended Lebovitz on his work with The Sato Project in coordinating the trip. “It is both an incredible honor, and incredibly humbling, to be able to support this heartwarming mission,” he added.
Saturday’s flight, termed “Mission Possible 7,” is financially sponsored by noted equestrian and animal lover Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Neville Jacobs, the famous and worldly bull terrier of fashion designer Marc Jacobs – who in 2015 selected the Sato Project as his charity of choice – will be on hand to greet “his Puerto Rican cousins” upon their arrival in Morristown.