Tania Isenstein was an unhappy Wall Street lawyer for many years. She wanted to find something more fulfilling, and the path she found led her to dedicate her life to dogs. She began boarding dogs who already had loving homes, fostering those who don’t, and leading the effort to save Puerto Rico’s street dogs, called “satos.” We were lucky enough to talk to Tania about her journey.
Tania’s first steps out of Wall Street and toward dog rescue started with her purchase of Camp Canine, a full-service doggy daycare in Manhattan.
“After some soul searching, I realized that the one thing in the world that ALWAYS makes me happy is dogs…I came up with the idea of a doggy daycare. I looked at a few in Manhattan before I discovered that Camp Canine was for sale. Not only had I brought my dog to Camp many years ago, but it is located literally on the street that I live on – just 2 blocks away. I decided this was meant to be!”
Tania soon realized that, apart from the holidays, Camp Canine had room to spare which could be used to foster dogs that weren’t lucky enough to already have amazing families. This led to her becoming involved in Animal Lighthouse Rescue, which is focused on rescuing the satos of Puerto Rico.
“I reached out to a local rescue organization by the name of Stray From the Heart and asked if we could foster some dogs for them. They assigned me to Julie Sinaw, who was focused on Puerto Rico rescue. [She and David Brownstein later] informed me that they were forming a new rescue group by the name of Animal Lighthouse Rescue (ALR) to focus solely on saving satos from Puerto Rico, and they wanted me to work with them – which I happily agreed to do. Until 2017, I served as a foster home for the satos. (During that time I met and fell in love with my sato sidekick Nacho.) At the end of 2016, I stepped up to become the Chair of the Board. We have managed to keep the group afloat – and then [Hurricane] Maria hit!”
As you may recall, Puerto Rico was hit especially hard by Hurricane Maria. As of November 6, more than half of Puerto Ricans were still without electricity and 17% still didn’t have drinkable water. As with much of the island nation, ALR’s shelter was destroyed. Several months later, recovery is slow going.
“Many of the shelter employees lost their homes, and many who didn’t still do not have electricity. [Contractors] are up to 3 times as expensive as they would be normally. What we have been able to do so far is pay our $30,000+ vet bill for housing and treating dogs during the hurricane. We have also purchased a powerful generator which will be installed soon. I am planning to travel down there to assess and hopefully get things moving in January or February. In the meantime, our employees continue to take dogs into their homes and send them to us for adoption. ALR has saved over 35 dogs post-Maria (including Nina, who you can see in the pictures below).”
In all, ALR has rescued over 1,000 dogs from Puerto Rico and about 250 of those have been fostered at Camp Canine.
If you’re interested in learning more about Animal Lighthouse Rescue or to donate, you can check out their website or Facebook page. If you’d like to learn more about Camp Canine in Manhattan, you can check out their website or Facebook page. Follow Tania’s dog, Nacho, on Instagram.
A big thank you to Tania Isentein for talking to us and providing the included pictures!