Berks woman stuck in Puerto Rico may be blessing in disguise

'She is a trained, skilled veterinary technician'

Hurricane Maria is hitting close to home for one of the animal shelters in Berks County. One of its employees is stuck in Puerto Rico, but the shelter said her predicament may actually be a blessing in disguise.

"She was expected back. She didn't come back," said Karel Minor, the CEO of Reading-based Humane Pennsylvania.

Minor said he was worried sick when he didn't hear from Stephanie Desiderio, one of his veterinary technicians, for an entire week.

She traveled to Puerto Rico just before Hurricane Maria hit to get her grandparents ready for the storm, but she got stuck.

"Finally, a neighbor of hers managed to get a call up to at least let us know that she was OK," said Minor.

Desiderio is from Naranjito. It's on the mountainside in Puerto Rico, and it's one of the communities hit hardest.

69 News tried calling her cell phone several times Thursday, but never got through. Minor said he managed to speak with her a few days ago.

"First thing we told her is to just not worry about the fact that she's stuck down there," he said.

The second thing he told her is that the Humane Society will keep paying her.

"It's not her fault she's down there. She was down helping her grandparents," said Minor.

But there's one condition.

"One of the things she could do, maybe to help, is to help any animals or any groups that are down there that are helping animals and try and rescue them," he said.

Some of those homeless animals could eventually make their way to Berks County. Until then, they will hopefully get some great care.

"She is a trained, skilled veterinary technician," said Minor.  "There's actually an opportunity for her to do good down there in a way that we can't."

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