With the death toll rising and resources dwindling, many are evacuating Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, including one family who recently made it to Braintree.
The journey for the Haywards was a little different and a lot more challenging because their family includes four pets. With no veterinarians to file travel paperwork on the island, they did not have many options to get out.
“If we couldn’t go together, we weren’t going to go until we could find a way to do that,” Terrie Hayward said, who is a dog training and behavior expert.
They had standing water in their home and spent days cleaning up the damage after the storm passed, but realized they needed to evacuate as the days passed and things around them were not improving.
“What happens when there isn’t any more water," Terrie asked, "What happens when the stores don’t get more supplies and there’s no more food? We said, let’s start looking at options.”
The options, with their two dogs, George and Blanca, and their two cats, Eggplant and Mamacita, were extremely limited. Hayward and her husband ended up chartering a plane with a group of people for $18,000. The plane took 7 people and 7 animals from Puerto Rico to Florida.
From there, the Haywards drove 27 hours over 2 days to Braintree, Massachusetts, where they are living in a nearly empty apartment.
They are grateful to be safe and near family, but cannot stop thinking about the other pet owners in Puerto Rico who are not able to make a similar journey.
“I used water from the tap to give my dogs water in their bowls. I used my washer and dryer for my clothes. None of that is happening in Puerto Rico – none of that is an option right now for folks in Puerto Rico,” Hayward said.
They hope to go back to their home in Rincon in a few months, but while they are in Braintree, they plan on raising money and awareness for the people and the animals in Puerto Rico who they know still need help.