Adopt a Pet, Don't Buy One!
Stories of Pets in Yucatan
This week, we bring you the first in a series of stories about local animals, hoping that we can help our readers understand the plight of the animals at our shelters and the importance of considering adopting vs. buying a pet. If, after reading these, you want to help, contact one of the organizations below. If you would like to donate money, Yucatan Living will accept money via Paypal and distribute it to YAPA, which will distribute it to each of the organizations.
Linda Letcher, the author, has written this one and will hopefully be following it up with many more (be sure to have your Kleenex close by and keep in mind that all of these stories are real...):
Tabitha woke up on the street scared and hungry. Last night, her family threw her out the front door and told her she was ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’. Tabitha didn’t understand this. She was a beautiful 5 year old Dalmatian. It was not her fault that as she got older, she developed a tumor that the family’s children made fun of. She stood outside the door of her familiar home, hoping they would change their minds and take her back. But, as time passed, she understood that wasn’t going to happen. She heard them say before throwing her out that they didn’t have the money to ‘fix’ her. She was on her own now.
Tabitha started down the street looking for food. She saw a man with a sandwich and sat down next to him. She gently raised her paw as her family had taught her to do. In the past, she would be rewarded with a treat. Instead the man yelled at her to go away and kicked her hard. He was wearing boots and it hurt her back leg terribly. She had to move on.
Her day continued, hunting for food and in pain. Night fell and Tabitha still found no food. From walking many, many streets, she developed a limp. She crawled into an alley and tried to rest. She heard other dogs howling in the night and was frightened.
Tabitha’s days and nights continued on like this. Sometimes she would find a scrap of food and a puddle of rain water. How she missed the days when her family put her food in a little red bowl in the kitchen. She was getting very thin and weak. She was so dirty; it was difficult to see the beautiful Dalmatian spots that she once sported so proudly.
Then, one night, when she didn’t think she could go on, a lady stopped and crouched down to touch her. Tabitha trembled, not knowing if she would be hit again or kicked. She didn’t have the strength to run away. This lady held out her hand and offered food. Tabitha was starving, so took it from her hand. The woman then gently wrapped her in a blanket and took her away.
The lights were bright and Tabitha heard many voices and saw people in white coats. They were kind and gentle as they examined her. They said the tumor could be removed and the leg that was broken (probably from being kicked too hard) could be repaired, too.
Tabitha went to sleep and dreamed of her old home. When she woke up, she was in some pain, but felt safe. She was in a cage with fresh food and water. People came by and said she was doing well. They even pet her!
After 2 weeks, Tabitha was taken to a shelter where she was introduced to the other dogs. They told Tabitha their stories. Here is Sheriff’s tale:
Sheriff was a stately ‘mixed breed’, although he preferred to think of himself as a German Shepherd. He had a shepherd’s stature and coloring. He was proud and strong – until the car hit him. He couldn’t remember anything of his old life. All he knew was the excruciating pain he was in. He was lying on the side of the road, left for dead. His back side and legs crushed by a car that was going too fast. They didn’t even slow down when they saw him.
Cars and trucks continued to whizz by Sheriff. No one stopped to help him as he lay bleeding in the road. The pain was unbearable, yet Sheriff knew he had to get off the road. He struggled to raise himself on his front legs. He ignored the pain and slowly tried to drag himself closer to the sidewalk and to safety. No one stopped to help him. He was on his own. Sheriff breathed heavy, but tried to keep going. He didn’t understand why no one would help him. It seemed as though he laid there for hours.
Finally, a car slowed down. A lady got out and approached him. He heard her say that she couldn’t believe he survived. But he knew it was because he was tough and had the heart of a shepherd! She gently lifted him into the car and brought him to a place where he was held and watched and given ‘treatment’ for days and days. The treatment was painful, but somehow Sheriff knew that it was for his good. He received food and water, too. He wished he could remember his old life…
After months of treatment and therapy, Sheriff was taken to a shelter where he soon became the number one dog. As it turned out, the shelter founder was the lady who rescued him from the side of the road. He now stood proudly by her side every day. This was where he met Lucy and Ricky.
Lucy and Ricky were just young pups! They were born under a bush along the Periferico. They had no distinguishing characteristics or discernable breed. They were what people considered ‘street dogs’ or callejeros. Lucy and Ricky were lucky to have their mama to provide them with food and care. She didn’t have a lot of milk and was very, very thin and weak herself, yet she was a good provider and loved them.
One day, Lucy and Ricky heard a terrible noise. Their mama was out searching for food to bring back to them and it sounded like her cry. She never came back to them. They were scared and alone now, hiding under a bush. They didn’t move, though, as their mama had warned them to stay away from the highway. Lucy and Ricky didn’t know what to do – they were young and inexperienced in the ways of the streets.
They became hungry and thirsty. Poor Lucy began to whimper. It was then that a worker going by on bicycle spotted them. He scooped them up and put them in a basket. They were scared, but couldn’t escape. The worker had heard about a shelter close by. He bicycled to the gate – it was late, so the shelter wasn’t open. He left little Lucy and Ricky at the gate where they could be found in the morning.
Lucy and Ricky didn’t move that night and stayed huddled by the gate. They were lucky. In the morning they were found safe and sound and sleeping. They were scooped up and brought inside the shelter where they were given fresh food and water. They still missed their mother, but somehow knew they were in a good place and would be OK. They played at the feet of the shelter founder as puppies do. She exclaimed how cute they were! Lucy and Ricky were very, very grateful to the worker who brought them to this place.
Lola was confused. She heard her breeder/owner say that she had become a ‘financial liability’ and was better off dead. Lola was an English bulldog born into a Puppy Mill and for 8 long years she suffered in a tiny cage. She was forced to breed, and then sadly her puppies would be stripped away from her. How Lola wanted to enjoy being a mama to her pups! And now, it sounded to her that her years of servitude were ending as she could no longer become pregnant.
Before the breeder decided to kill her, he starved her. No point feeding a dog that was worthless to him. Lola, once proud and beautiful was now covered with ticks and mange and her eye was badly infected. Why did her owner of 8 years allow her to suffer this way? Didn’t she always perform her duties and give him the most beautiful puppies?
Lola’s strength waned as the days passed. It was decided by her breeder that today was the day she would be killed. She tried to be brave, but it was hard. Her heart was broken. Then, miraculously, a volunteer came by the Puppy Mill. After hearing about what was going to happen to Lola through a friend, an intervention took place where Lola was "removed" and taken into the custody of the brave volunteer. Within an hour of her rescue, Lola was taken to the volunteer's work, where she received her first meal in days, fresh water, and a cool place to rest.
By that evening, Lola was examined by a caring vet, who gave an optimistic outlook for her. Lola still had some fight in her! All she now needed was someone to love her in her twilight years.
Timothy was just 4 weeks old along with his sister and brother. He lived in an overgrown backyard in Centro. His mother was what was called a ‘feral cat’. She had a difficult delivery and several of his siblings already had died from the heat and the bugs. Timothy knew his mother was struggling. He tried hard not to take too much milk, leaving some for his sister and brother and not over-burdening his mother. He was a beautiful kitten – an orange and white fluff ball!
One day, his mother could give no more milk. As he nestled against her body, he noted that it seemed cold. He began to cry out hoping someone would help his mother. An old woman came into the yard. She was very frail and seemed impatient. She picked up Timothy along with his sister and brother and put them all in a cardboard box, leaving his mother abandoned in the yard.
She carried the box through the house and placed it on the street – it was trash night in Centro. Timothy, the cute orange kitten was considered of no greater value than a piece of rotted fruit.
That night, some boys came by and saw the cardboard box with the three kittens. They kicked the box down the street a bit, but became bored and left it on the corner. A man heard their cries and came to investigate. He picked up the box and examined the kittens. Timothy’s sister didn’t make it – she was already too weak from lack of mother’s milk. The kind man took Timothy and his brother to a shelter where they were hand fed from baby bottles. The nipple of the bottle wasn’t as soft as Timothy remembered of his mother, but the milk was warm and sweet. For the first time in his young life, Timothy purred…
These are the stories of those lucky strays that found their way into shelters. Their stories are as varied as their breeds. They all do have one thing in common, though. All of the strays featured in this article along with hundreds of others are looking for their ‘forever home’. Before buying a dog or cat from a breeder, won’t you please visit a shelter and meet Tabitha, Sheriff, Lucy and Ricky and Timothy? (Lola has already found a wonderful home!) They will steal your heart and promise to love you forever…
If you have been touched by the stories of Tabitha, Sheriff, Lucy and Ricky, Lola and Timothy and are interested in meeting them and other strays now in shelters, please donate money to YAPA or contact the following shelters:
Lovely Lizette is STILL Looking for a Home
This little dog was found running down the middle of Calle 68 at 9:00 at night. She would have been a meat pie for sure if she wasn't picked up, as she was so frazzled, she wouldn't get out of the middle of the street.
She has been named Lizette after her foster mom, but she can only keep her for 2 weeks, so we need to find her a permanent home.
Lizette is slightly built and will not be a big dog as she is almost full grown now. She is 7-8 months and she weighs about 10 pounds. What a perfect little dog! She is small enough to be easy to carry and travel with, and yet has the great, big, wonderful heart of a Yucatecan malix! And look at those ears!
Want to see Lizette in action? Check out Lizette's video!
If you want to adopt Lizette, call
Jill Benson at
Evolución, Albergue y Santuario at 9991-43-47-11 or email email@example.com.
Please Support Yucatan's Independently-Run Animal Shelters
Here are the two animal shelters in Merida that are mentioned above. If you want a new dog, please look here first. If you have lost a dog, look here first as well.
If you have found a dog you cannot keep, please contact them for instructions. If they are able to give the dog a temporary home, they will. We encourage you to be generous with a donation when you bring them a stray dog.
If you are visiting Merida and want to take a dog home, please know that this is NOT difficult and they can help!
For information about the situation of companion animals in Mexico, go to Companions to None.
Evolución is located in Uman, south of Merida. Sylvia runs this large enclosed shelter like a bed & breakfast for dogs, giving them lots of space to roam free. Jill Benson helps out and will be the one talking to you if you wish to adopt a dog. Evolución has events, like dog baths, that you can participate in if you want to visit the dogs. Just give them a call! If you don't see a pet you like on these pages, give Evolución a call and arrange to visit to find your perfect companion.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (replies will be in English)
AFAD - Albergue Franciscano de Animal Desprotegido
The Franciscan Shelter for Unprotected Animals (ask for Lidia, who understands English, and many assistants/volunteers who speak English) AFAD has these dogs and more at their shelter in north Merida, just off the Periferico on the way to Cholul. They think it is very important that, if you want to adopt a dog or cat, you come and meet with them at the shelter. AFAD is very careful about the families that they allow to adopt dogs, and the conditions that the dogs will be kept in on a daily basis. If you know that you will give a dog a loving home for the rest of its natural life, please visit AFAD to find the dog that it is just right for you!
AFAD is only open Saturdays and Sundays between 11 am and 2 pm. This is when the volunteers are there to assist you with the dogs, and to explain the adoption process. AFAD is located almost opposite the University Modelo on the road to Cholul (orange fence and gate cafe).
You may not see a dog from AFAD on this page, but if you live in the North and want to adopt a dog, call or email AFAD right away and they will help you out! There are always more wonderful dogs and cats looking for a home than people to adopt them.
Email: email@example.com (replies will be in English)
YAPA - Yucatan Ayuda Para Animales
YAPA is a new organization, started by English-speaking expatriates to make it easier for those of us who don't understand Spanish very well to organize, volunteer and share our skills to help the animals of the Yucatan.
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or finding out more should please contact Debbie Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YAPA volunteers have spoken to the shelters and here is a short list of much-needed supplies. Anything you can donate to them would be much appreciated!!
Attention Dog and Cat Lovers:
YAPA (Yucatan Ayuda Por Animales) is a group of Mexicans and North Americans that just formed to support the overworked animal shelters in Merida. The shelters are in constant need of many items. If you are driving back to Merida, please consider bringing back some of the supplies listed below for the animals. If you are local, please donate any of these items. Email Kathleen at email@example.com to find out where to bring your supplies. What is needed:
- Small, medium, and large pet carriers – to donate or sell at a low price to the shelters (WE NEED THESE URGENTLY!!)
- Old collars and leashes
- Old dog or cat bowls (preferably stainless steel but will take any kind)
- Medicines – mostly need doxiciclina, available at any pharmacy
- Fabric like old towels, sheets, and bedding, old jeans, t-shirts
- Old buckets, large
- Dog food - Pedigree or Sportsman’s Choice (available at Sam’s Club: yellow bag, not blue)
- Cat food (Whiskas or Costco’s Maintenance)
- Shampoo (cheap kind is OK)
- Bleach and Baking soda (available by the kilo at Farmacia Comercia)
- Amitrax (to get rid of ticks), available at Planned Pethood
Thanks for your help!
Also, the shelters need pet carriers. If you have some to donate, please contact Jill Benson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on her cel phone: 999-143-4711.
YAPA is still urgently looking for foster homes to foster a number of abandoned kittens and dogs until we can find more permanent homes for them. If you haven’t already signed up for foster care opportunities, please email email@example.com and I will gladly add you to our Doggie or Kitty Foster care database.
Nika McGuin 6 years ago
Could you guys list some good locations for adopting cats?
Michael 13 years ago
Wondering who's the dog on the lead link photo to this article, and what breed, or is it a mix. Striking...
Working Gringos 13 years ago
Bienvenidos, Alex! We hope that if you do see a street dog, you will treat him kindly... and maybe even adopt him!
alex morrell 13 years ago
I just arrived in Merida to live here Thursday night. It's a great city, me and my dad ate at Boston's(great food), we've stuck to the local places ever since. I haven't seen any dogs in the streets though.
Working Gringos 13 years ago
The contact information for each of the shelters is at the end of the article. Please contact one of them and arrange your visit. If you have trouble at all, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help. Whatever we can do to find another dog a good home!
Ginnie 13 years ago
we would love to come by and see about adopting a dog-puppy. Could you send me your address please. Thanks so much. ginnie
Working Gringos 13 years ago
Thank you, Bruce! We're glad we can be of help to you and others, and we're looking forward to having you join the expat community here.
Theresa in MÃ©rida 13 years ago
If you want to buy doxiciclina to donate, buy it at Famacias Similares on Mondays between the hours of 10am and 1 pm or 5pm to 7pm, when they have the 25% off on medicines, that way you can get four boxes for the price of three!
Bruce 13 years ago
Just wanted to take a moment to congratulate you and your staff on a great job. I'm sorry I failed to take the time to visit you personally when I was in MÃ©rida in July but I can assure you I won't miss that opportunity next time.
Your Magazine (hardly qualifies as a newsletter) continues to contain valuable information for all who take the time to read it thoroughly. In this particular issue your honesty and ethics bring a breath of thanks for those of us who remember those words.
I am in the planning stages of retiring in MÃ©rida and not only your great articles, informative information, heartfelt comments, movie clips and steadfast dedication to explore both the bad and the good with candid unjudging eyes and taking the time to continually compose and expose the news and events of the area confirm my decision to make the move. My month-long stay in July was deliberately planned to give me first hand knowledge of the summer rainy season as that was of some concern for me. I am so glad I took the time to "see for myself" how absolutely great the weather is and, just as important, what beautiful people I found and confirmed what I thought -- that the city of MÃ©rida is as beautiful, safe and friendly as I had read.
I apologize as I didn't intend to write a book here - but was particularly inspired by your article (and your candid views) on Catherwood - the way you both handled this individual and exposed his deeds was commendable! I salute you and your staff.
Kindest regards, Bruce Olsen, Burbank, CA
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