Puppies rescued after hurricane to star in Puppy Bowl

Two puppies rescued from storm-ravaged Puerto Rico will star in the Puppy Bowl.

Kaleb Jr. and Archer, two mixed-breeds, are among more than 1,000 dogs that have been transported to safety from Puerto Rico by rescue group The Sato Project since Hurricane Maria roared ashore the U.S. territory.

Since 2011, The Sato Project has been rescuing abandoned and abused dogs from Puerto Rico, where limited spay and neuter practices have lead to unwanted litters of puppies. The organization, which gets its name from the Puerto Rican slang for stray dog, "sato," typically focuses its efforts on an area known as Dead Dog Beach in Yabucoa municipality in the southeast corner of the island, where many unwanted canines are dumped.

But the situation was exacerbated when Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 20, according to Christina Beckles, founder and president of The Sato Project. Now, the group is rescuing dogs from all over the island.

"The amount of dogs that need help now is beyond anything I've ever seen before in all those years of rescue," Beckles told ABC News in a telephone interview Friday.

Hurricane Maria ravaged homes and knocked out the island's entire power grid. The government of Puerto Rico put the official death toll as a result of Maria at 64. But after some independent analyses found the count was likely significantly higher, Puerto Rico's governor ordered a review of all deaths that have occurred since the storm struck.

Though the group's operations are back up and running, Beckles said the influx of puppy litters born in the storm's aftermath is overwhelming.

"Now we're seeing the effect of that. We're getting more puppies than I have ever seen before," Beckles said. "I truly feel that we have lost seven years of work with Maria, which is heartbreaking."

FEMA announced Tuesday that the agency’s food and water aid to Puerto Rico is no longer needed for emergency operations, citing the restoration of the commercial food and water supply chain and the availability of private suppliers.

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria has forced tens of thousands of people who were living in Puerto Rico to come to the U.S. mainland. Hunter College's Center for Puerto Rican Studies estimates that Puerto Rico will lose up to 470,335 residents, or 14 percent of its population, from 2017 to 2019.

"We have the hundreds of thousands of dogs that were already stray and abandoned on the streets, and now those numbers are increasing because people are abandoning their dogs as they leave the island or they can't afford to care for them," Beckles said. "And it's not ending anytime soon."

On average, The Sato Project rescues and rehabilitates about 350 dogs every year in Puerto Rico and flies them to New York for adoption. The organization has donated generators, emergency veterinary supplies, more than 200 dogs beds and over 50,000 pounds of dog food in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The four-legged all-stars will go paw-to-paw in Sunday's furry competition with other puppies rescued from areas devastated by natural disasters last year. Animal Planet worked with 48 different animal shelters and rescue organizations from 25 U.S. states and territories to fill the adorable rosters of Team Fluff and Team Ruff.

"There's no need to ever buy a dog," Beckles said. "You can find whatever dog your heart desires at your local shelter."

ABC News' Erin Dooley and Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.