Surfin' Sato, Inc. Public Statement Regarding Leptospirosis Exposure

Aimee Goodwin
Submitted 7 months ago
Hartford, VT

In light of the recent public exposure to leptospirosis at our ‘Meet The Satos’ event last Sunday, we, the Board of Directors at Surfin’ Sato, would like to take the opportunity to explain the events leading up to this week as well as introduce our organization.

On November 9th, ten puppies were transported from a private home in Puerto Rico to the Upper Valley.  These puppies were born just before the hurricanes hit, and spent their first months in a home with several other dogs. They survived on rainwater and whatever food their family could find for them.  The puppies were vaccinated against major diseases, including leptospirosis.  A week later they received their health certificates from a veterinarian and were cleared to fly to the mainland.

On the evening of November 9th, the puppies landed at Logan and were driven to their foster families.  The puppies saw a veterinarian on Saturday morning and appeared healthy. By Sunday evening, one of the puppies began experiencing signs of illness and was admitted to SAVES animal clinic in Lebanon.  By Monday, we suspected leptospirosis but we could not get an accurate in-office test result because the puppies had been vaccinated against the disease.  

During the day Monday, we moved forward with prophylactic treatment (doxycycline) for the remaining nine puppies.  Unfortunately, both the puppy at SAVES and one other in our care became acutely ill and had to be euthanized.  While three other puppies were mildly symptomatic, thankfully, we were able to administer doxycycline in time to save them.  They are currently thriving.

Since the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, our policy has been to take dogs that had been isolated (in one home) and vaccinated for at least one week.  With this strategy, we felt we could be sure that communicable diseases were kept at bay and thereby safeguard our local dogs and families.  As we’ve learned in the aftermath of this tragedy, leptospirosis is complicated. The vaccination is not wholly effective and the disease is rapidly spreading to private water sources in Puerto Rico.  With this new knowledge, our organization has decided to take a break from evacuating dogs as we evaluate the best strategy for ensuring everyone’s safety.

We are consulting with veterinarians, physicians and the Department of Health who will help us develop best practices for screening dogs.  In addition, we hope to work with our partners on the ground in Puerto Rico to develop a realistic, enhanced screening protocol for their rescue operations.

Surfin’ Sato is committed to our mission of providing animal welfare education to students through service learning.  This includes our sato rescue operations throughout the year as well as service missions to Puerto Rico.  We thank everyone for their continued support of Surfin’ Sato, and the US citizens and pets of Puerto Rico.  As we have learned first hand, there are no travel restrictions between PR and the mainland, so their problems and diseases are our problems. We need to acknowledge how difficult living conditions are in Puerto Rico, and do our part to ensure that all Americans and their pets have healthy living conditions.


Surfin’ Sato, Inc. Board of Directors

Aimee Goodwin, Executive Director

Michelle Gottlieb, Associate Director

Kirsten Elin, Treasurer

Ellen Kitchel, Secretary

Tim Berube, Education Advisor

Cleo Roback, Intern

Liam Gurman, Intern

Azor Goodwin, Student Participant

Bri Laycock, Student Participant

Robbie Barnum, Student Participant

Comments 1

  • Molly O'Hara · 7 months ago  · Report
    Aimee, I am so sorry this happened! What a sad time, to lose two puppies and have to face this. Although I was not in attendance, I appreciate Surfin' Sato's honesty and transparency in this matter. And I think it's important for people to know that with rescue comes a certain small risk level, despite vet checks. Nobody is perfect, and the rescue vets are checking so many dogs. Clearly Surfin Satos was on top of the problem immediately however, and that is all that the public can ask of you.
  • No results were found matching your criteria.
    Try changing your search or expand the search area.


    Download the DailyUV app today!