Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 NDC’s Janelle Nichol was travelling from Playa del Carmen back to Canada. Seeing as the heat embargo is rapidly approaching upon us here in the Riviera Maya. This means that come May 15th the temperatures will be too high for dogs to be transported in the cargo area of airplanes. NDC saw this as the perfect opportunity to reach out to a few local dog rescuers to see if they were in need of any airport escorts flying into the Calgary area.There were two dogs that had been adopted and all they needed was a volunteer to bring them to their new “furever” home.
Dingo (who is wearing the harness) was found wandering the streets with a female partner. The two street dogs were consistently fed by a local couple here in Playa. One day Dingo just seem to stop coming around his usual route. However his female counterpart would still some around from time to time and even though she was timid it appeared as if she was trying to communicate something. The couple followed her where they noticed Dingo laying under a car, he’d been hit. They took it upon themselves to care for him and rehabilitate him. They paid for his surgery and rehab.
Pablo was found on the streets of Playa when he was only four months old. He was a sick puppy with distemper but fortunately he survived, and without any long-term side effects. Pablo lived with his rescuer for 2 years. Then Heather Stewart became involved in Pablo’s case and aided in his adoption.
In the beginning, Good Intentions started out as one person paying it forward to another. One day, Aimee Kristee noticed her young neighbour, Emmanuel approaching her with a handwritten note. The note read, “Can you teach me English?” This boy’s desire to learn tugged at Aimee’s heartstrings and from there the lessons started. Every week more children would join, and the class grew in size.
Now, every weekend children of varying ages gather together in a nurturing atmosphere where they’re encouraged to be creative, learn and use their imaginations. Activities such as painting, crafts, meditating, yoga, singing and dancing are all part of the Good Intentions curriculum. Good Intentions is run by volunteers who donate their time and services. Some of the children that go to the Good Intentions class aren’t able to attend school. At Good Intentions, they’re able to practice their language skills, both Spanish and English, with the help of volunteers. Fundamental topics are also taught such as proper hygiene and nutrition. Healthy and nutritional snacks are also provided for everyone to enjoy together in a family-like setting.
But most importantly the Good Intentions program provides a safe and loving place for kids to gather, where emotional support is provided and trusting relationships are being formed.
Originally street dogs in Playa del Carmen, Güero and Sombra were captured by the Cebiam dog pound while found wandering next to the Hotel Paradisus in the Colosio. At the Cebiam pound, a dog is allowed to stay at the facilities for 30 days. Dogs that are not picked up by their owners or claimed within 30 days are euthanized. Unfortunately, in most cases no one does come to claim these dogs, and the majority of them are in fact street dogs or have been abandoned.
In the case of Güero and Sombra, they were very fortunate thanks to Alex Berger and her nonprofit program Cada Vida Importa. While residing at the pound Güero (originally named Tico) and Sombra’s 30 days were running out. Cada Vida Importa intervened and saved them from the inevitable. Alex had the two blondies transferred to a temporary home at S.O.S. el Arca a local dog shelter in Playa del Carmen.
Now Güero and Sombra are both 3 years old and have been officially adopted. They’re new home will be in Calgary, Canada with Thomas McKay. Tom said he’s had dogs throughout most of his life until recently. Tom has had to wait for his career to settle but says; “So now the time is right. I put a lot of thought into this, and feel that adopting two dogs would be best, as though I’m home every evening, I still work long days, and I know a single dog would be lonely.”
Tom has been making many preparations for their arrival such as; fixing up the fence around his large backyard, adding a doggy door so the dogs can go in and out of the yard easily and not be stuck in the house all day. Güero and Sombra are sure to be very well loved and spoiled. Tom was listing off the amenities he has purchased for his two new companions, doggy beds, treats and quality food, a kiddy pool for the summer, and of course lots of toys. Tom says, “I have a camper and fishing boat I tend to use often, so they’ll get spoiled at the lake this summer as well. I’m looking forward to welcoming them home.”
Playa Animal Rescue
Playa Animal Rescue fondly known as P.A.R. is a no-kill dog shelter focused on the rescuing and recovery of abandoned dogs. Volunteers are always needed. The dogs at the shelter need to be walked, trained, bathed, and loved. Once dogs are fully rehabilitated ideally they’d be adopted right away. In a lot of cases, this doesn’t happen. Foster care is needed until a permanent home is found. This allows the shelter to rescue more dogs and give them a chance for a better life. P.A.R. aims to find permanent homes for all of their rescues, whether it’s in Mexico, the U.S or Canada.
The shelter also needs escorts to take animals out of the country and volunteers to make airport runs. There are no borders when it comes to finding a loving home for these furry companions.
Originally from Guanajuato Mexico, Mateo Frías is a self-taught painter that has initiated a project called “Playarte Pop” to help raise funds that enable him to rescue and foster dogs in critical conditions. Matteo live’s in Puerto Morelos, this is where he fosters and cares for several dogs at one time.
Matteo said while living in the United States and working a construction job in 2008 he started to paint as a hobby, and everything evolved from there. Matteo’s project has now been around for 2 years, since 2014.
I asked Matteo how he came up with the idea of using his art as a method to fund his dog rescuing and fostering efforts.
He said, – “There are a lot of people in Playa del Carmen that rescues dogs. A lot of times, they just rescue a dog, put photos up on social media, and feel that people should give them money just like that. The way I see it is that nobody told me to rescue the dog in the first place, so I don’t think it’s fair to just be asking for donations. So I thought If people buy a painting, I can afford dog food. I started painting portraits of my supporters dogs and that’s how this got started. I thought it would be better this way than to claim donations without giving people anything in exchange.”
Matteo focuses on the rescuing and recovery of dogs in critical conditions. They get a lot of street dogs that are in good health and in those cases they do a “catch – spay – release”. This is a free sterilisation program to help control the population of the street dogs and cats in the Riviera Maya. The animals are captured, sterilised and then released where they were initially found. Often these dogs are being fed by neighbours and don’t require further assistance. Then there are some special cases which occur too often. For example, Matteo found “Cesar” 4 years ago in the “Colosio” neighbourhood. One of his back legs had been hacked with a machete and he was left in a plastic bag to die. When he was found, Matteo said they were pretty sure that he would not make it, but he is alive and happy today. When we visited Matteo he had a couple of dogs that had been abandoned by their owners. A Great Dane, who had been left to starve and a Saint Bernard which is an unusual dog to see here in the Riviera Maya. The Saint Bernard was found locked in a yard. It’s a sad story but unfortunately, it’s not unusual to hear about irresponsible pet owners here in the Riviera Maya, particularly during low season. Some abandon their dogs when they need to move and cannot find a home that accepts pets. Others run into trouble when they need to leave the country and cannot afford the cargo fees for the dog. Matteo is now seeking a home in a cooler climate for the Saint Bernard where he will be more comfortable.
There are many ways of helping out which include. Volunteering your time, you can participate in the “catch – spay – release” program and spay and neuter the animals in your neighbourhood, for example. “Share”,”Like” Facebook and other social media posts including this blog post! – “We never know who may see a post, and there’s always a chance it will reach the right people,” says Matteo. Or you can contribute financially and order an original painting of your own pet.
Matteo’s art is acrylic on canvas and even though he doesn’t use realistic colours to portrait the subjects he is definitely is able to replicate each dog’s expression from the photo he is given. I for one am in love with his colourful happy style, I think it’s a great representation of the “big picture”, each animal should be happy.
Matteo also paints custom t-shirts if you are interested in purchasing a piece of his art you can contact us via our website our Facebook Page or Matteo’s Facebook Page. https://www.facebook.com/tuplayartepop/ All the paintings are one of a kind and Matteo does ship them out of the country. All the money raised goes to helping the dogs.
The Christmas season is a special time for most of us, paired with fond memories, nostalgia, and warm and fuzzy feelings. Christmas is something most of us look forward to at the end of every year. Sadly there are many who are less fortunate, and do not have the means to create the cheerful Christmas they would like for their families. However thanks to the efforts of Roger and Sharon Schultz and many volunteers, they have organized a Santa Drive for the past 15 consecutive years. Each year gifts are donated and collected for less fortunate children. Santa is played by Roger and volunteers dress up as elves to help hand out gifts, toys, and candy.
When the Santa Drive first started Roger, Sharon, their friends and family visited 3 villages to deliver donations. Over the years the program has expanded greatly. Today the Santa Drive visits 8 different towns in the Riviera Maya and 50 plus schools each year. Upwards of 2800 gifts are collected and handed out. Roger and his family personally make up the difference in any missing donations. Roger Schultz says “It’s one of the best things I get to do every year.”