Cruzan Satos Rescue – A Champion for Injured and Neglected Animals

Some of the strongest, most resilient and most caring people in the Virgin Islands are those who rescue homeless animals. Rosa Vasquez of Cruzan Satos Rescue is one of those dedicated individuals who goes a step further and takes in the most hopeless cases. She usually is able to rehabilitate them and place them in a permanent home – sometimes her own.

“I don’t want the best. I don’t want the prettiest,” Vasquez said. “I believe in rehabilitation. I give them a second chance.”

Rosa Vasquez, of Cruzan Satos Rescue, with her now healthy dogs, she saved from starving. (Photo courtesy of Cruzan Satos Rescue)D

Vasquez is called on when animals need help when some other rescue organizations would resort to euthanasia. She cleans up the animal, vaccinates and deworms them and when they are stable, takes them to a veterinarian for an examination, neutering and heartworm treatment. While recovering, the animal is kept inside her house and then moved outside into a large, quiet backyard with several kennels.

Michelle Maso and Rosa Vasquez cuddle BB after his trip to the veterinarian. (Photo by Susan

Animal rescues never know what to expect from day to day. Last month, a couple of tourists brought five tiny, emaciated puppies found at the Lagoon to Vasquez and the next week, six puppies, starving to death, were found in the ruins of the Good Hope School. In just a few days, Cruzan Satos Rescue was feeding and caring for 15 puppies. Vasquez checked out the puppies and luckily, foster parents were found for almost all of them. Since then, they have been vaccinated and microchipped.

Puppies rescued from the Lagoon and road side, with their mothers after being neutered and microchipped. (Photo courtesy of Cruzan Satos Rescue)

A few weeks ago, Vasquez saw a woman along the side of a road with an emaciated female dog and a cardboard box full of puppies she was trying to sell. She convinced the woman that what she was doing was illegal and took six puppies and three adult dogs home with her. Vasquez got all of them vaccinated, neutered and chipped, and returned the adults to their home. She is now helping the woman set up better shelter and living conditions for her dogs.

Rosa Vasquez rescued malnourished puppies alongside the road. (Photo courtesy of Cruzan Satos Rescue)

In February, she was directed to a kitten that was almost killed by dogs. The kitten was found bleeding from the nose after being tossed into a dumpster. The tiny cat’s paw and one eye were mangled. With a Go Fund Me account, enough was raised to have the paw surgically amputated and the eye removed. Now, the kitten is scheduled to have surgery on her other eye, which is almost blind. Vasquez will keep the spunky kitty, named “Koa,” meaning warrior.

CSR is run by volunteers – Vasquez and three others, along with a handful of foster parents. Vasquez founded the rescue organization with a friend, Colleen Cunningham who now lives in Pittsburg, PA. Volunteer Joelle Williams also lives in Pittsburg and they find permanent homes on the mainland. Allison Janusziewicz helps with adoptions, transportation and other work on St. Croix.

There also are CSR volunteers for the animals rescued in Puerto Rico. Those animals are often sent to stateside homes, as well.

Born in Puerto Rico, Vasquez came to St. Croix with her mother when she was eight years old. She has worked full-time at the Youth Rehabilitation Center for the last 15 years. In between 12-16 hour workdays, she cares for the animals.

The first animal Vasquez rescued was a stray dog in Puerto Rico. He was walking in the street, dragging a rope tied to his neck. She kept the dog until he died of old age.