Stephen McGarva is an artist who is addicted to adventure and extreme sports. So when his wife got a chance to take a temporary job in Puerto Rico he asked only, “When do we leave?”
After taking her to work in her new job he was looking forward to wind surfing on a deserted beach. But then he spotted a dog, more dead than alive, lying on the ground.
His rib cage was visible through the spare tufts of dark fur; he was so sunburned on the areas where fur had fallen out that the skin was split and bloody. His ears and snout were knobby and covered in calluses...
[McGarva] looked around for something he could use as a shovel to bury him...
And then the dog raised his head and wagged his tail.
And McGarva's life forever changed.
He learns that Dead Dog Beach is a place where locals dump dogs they no longer want. Hundreds of dogs live on the beach and the nearby jungle. The dogs are hated by hotel owners and others who rely on the tourist trade. They are often tortured and killed for sport.
Soon the author finds himself visiting them regularly, spending thousands on food to feed what he calls “my dogs," and trying to protect them.
Although the dogs have given him a new purpose in life, it is at a cost of his relationship with other people, his health and even his sanity.
The Rescue at Dead Dog Beach takes place in Puerto Rico, but it might have taken place in many third world locations. These are cultures where dogs are too expensive to keep and stray dogs are considered annoyances.
Although the book is well written and engaging, there are many passages of dogs being tortured, brutalized and killed that may be too intense for some readers.