By Jeff Todd

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – It wasn’t just an opportunity to help people in need, but Dr. Emily Hays’ trip to Puerto Rico was also a prestigious position for veterinarians.

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(credit: Emily Hays)

“A lot of people were displaced and unable to care for their animals, and so we went down as part of this group and part of this campaign for Humane Society of the United States to provide that care to the community and their animals,” said Hays.

Emily Hays (credit: CBS)

Normally she’s helping animals at the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden, but for 10 days she and a group of other veterinarians from around the country performed more than 8,000 surgeries to spay and neuter dogs and cats.

(credit: CBS)

Hays says there was obvious signs around that Puerto Rico still needs help.

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(credit: CBS)

“There’s a lot of buildings you can tell have not been rebuilt yet, and there’s a lot of areas that don’t have power. Which is another reason we went down there, to be able to supply the care that in some areas they just can’t provide that care,” she said.

(credit: Emily Hays)

The process was high-quality, high-volume surgeries. And the people of Puerto Rico showed they wanted the help.

“Watching these people, they would line up in line. They would stay the night in line in order to just get their animals spayed and neutered the next day. And they came back day after day,” Hays said. “It would be amazing to go back in a year and see these same people and know we empowered them to provide care for their animals.”

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Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.