The Lost Souls

There an estimated 500,000 stray dogs in Puerto Rico, a US Commonwealth about the size of Connecticut. The stray population keeps on growing and no humane solution has yet been found. Puerto Rican stray dogs are called “Satos” by locals. Although people own dogs as pets, they see Satos as vermin and these dogs live short lives of neglect and abuse.

Dead Dog Beach is located on the South-East coast of the island. A dumping ground, it is known for its stray dog population, and the abuse that has occurred on the isolated beach including gang rituals, target practice, and cars running over helpless dogs and puppies. Dogs are dumped here everyday. The Sato Project, a rescue group founded by New Yorker Chrissy Beckles, is their only source of fresh water and food, and rescues them as their resources allow it. Dead Dog Beach is one of the many beaches of the island overran by stray dogs.

On the beach, some of the dogs are very frightened or completely feral. Others have lived in homes and follow people around the beach, wagging their tails, looking for their owners, food, or a gentle hand. Some dogs are in a state of shock. Others, reconnecting with their deep wild nature, organize themselves into packs in their battle for survival.

As I am photographing, I sometimes wonder: could the dogs of Dead Dog Beach survive on their own? If not, why can’t they? Has our bond with dogs made us so codependent that we feel the need to rescue them, and has it made dogs unfit for life in the wild? The pursuit of these questions fuels my photographic exploration.