She and her friends rescued over 1, abandoned animals in Puerto Rico last year, mostly dogs. People leave animals in boxes on her doorstep. They call her when they see stray dogs, who are all over -- on beaches, in parks and by the roadside.
And then there are the puppies left to die in vacant houses or dumpsters. Many animal lovers have heard of Puerto Rico's " dead dog beach ," a stretch of sand and jungle on the island's southeastern side where people dump their dogs. But the truth is Puerto Rico has become "dead dog island," Roubian says. The problem is getting worse as Puerto Rico's economic crisis deepens.
Roubian never leaves home without pet food because she finds strays daily. Her property has become a makeshift shelter. She lives with over 20 dogs and sometimes pigs, cats and horses too. No one knows exactly how many strays Puerto Rico has, but a documentary about the plight is called " , " for a reason.
But many don't care -- or don't have the money to care. They leave dogs by the road or in the trash. People who flee the island People are literally fleeing Puerto Rico because the island's economy is so bad. One in 10 people is out of work. Sometimes people just leave their homes and lock their dogs inside, never to return. Sato Project saves pups from 'Dead Dog Beach'. Volunteers say the island's no-kill shelters are full and that animals taken to many facilities are put down.
There's a big sale on Puerto Rican homes. Machismo culture makes the dog problem worse. Roubian is a fairy godmother to Puerto Rican animals. But she has tough love for humans who don't care for their pets. Part of the reason the dog crisis is so bad is that Puerto Ricans don't spay or neuter their dogs. It's a machismo thing.
Puerto Rican men don't want to cut off a dog's manhood. The trouble is when dogs get abandoned on the streets, they breed and breed and breed. Veterinarians are willing to come help -- for free. They offer to treat and neuter strays, but technically, they are forbidden from operating under Puerto Rican law. The vets would need a license issued by a Puerto Rican board.
The process is cumbersome and there are no longer any veterinary schools on the island. She has adopted 12 dogs and 15 cats. A simple stroke of a pen by the Puerto Rican government to accept veterinary licenses from other U. Former governors -- both liberal and conservative -- told CNNMoney they were aware of the problem but it fell to the bottom of the "to do" list.
The current government has made some efforts to partner with the Humane Society , but the problem is vast. Who is behind one of the biggest scams in history?
As word has spread about Puerto Rico's stray dogs -- including many pure bred Shih Tzu and Maltese -- people in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere have started to step up and adopt the animals.
Or just get the animals to no-kill shelters. Volunteers like Roubian and Gilbert often wake up at 3 a. Many American Airlines workers have embraced the cause. They clean the kennels the dogs are transported in and return them to the Puerto Rican volunteers so they can be used again.
Volunteers wish other airlines like United UAL and JetBlue JBLU that fly those routes would offer discounts as well.
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United and JetBlue didn't respond to CNNMoney's request for comment for this article. Why I put billions in Puerto Rico. CNNMoney spoke with numerous volunteers in Puerto Rico who rescue animals.
All of them had a similar wishlist, primarily made up of three things: More families willing to adopt the animals A requirement for Puerto Ricans to neuter their dogs The Puerto Rican government to lift its restriction on veterinary licenses. She never turns away animals, but she dreams of the day when this crisis ends and she gets happy phone calls again.
If you are interested in adopting a Puerto Rican dog or supporting the rescue efforts, you can learn more about Barks of Hope here , Defensa Animal here or Animal Rescue Foundation here.
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