Despite challenges, welfare of animals in Playa del Carmen continues to improve

All 8 puppies survived, thanks to caring community members and IFAW’s support.Playa del Carmen is a paradise; but it also has a history of municipal neglect towards dogs kept in civic facilities. Following many lengthy meetings and arrangements with the authorities of Playa del Carmen, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has received assurance that the animals residing in municipal facilities will no longer suffer neglect.

To ensure and fortify this assertion, IFAW has been visiting the Animal Control Center on a regular basis. By working with the kennel workers, the capture teams, and the veterinarian in charge of the facility, the welfare of the animals has already improved dramatically.

On Monday, however, Kelly Whittemore (a valued volunteer and former North Carolina veterinary technician who moved to Playa del Carmen) and I were distressed to find a small dog named “Peeta” in one of the municipal facility kennels—very skinny and full of milk.

We discovered that she had been captured on Friday evening, undoubtedly leaving behind starving puppies.

Fortunately, part of the agreement negotiated with the authorities is that, following an initial 72 hours, animal rescue groups are allowed to care for, sterilize and vaccinate animals, and then reunite animals with their owners, place the animals up for adoption, or re-release the animals, if  they are either thriving or have a caretaker.

IFAW partners with Coco’s Cat Rescue to care for, sterilize, vaccinate, and return or re-home animals from the municipal shelter.

Owners whose animals are returned are educated on how to be a better owner to their animals and cautioned to always have a collar and id tag on animals in case they become lost.

This process takes time and effort, but seeing the joy when families are re-united with their four-legged friends, makes the process worthwhile.

Peeta was so skinny that we knew she was un-owned. So, when 72 hours passed, we found her a foster home where she could begin to gain weight in hopes of eventually getting adopted.

It had been six days after Peeta had been captured, when I received a phone call from a shelter in Playa where a man had come, desperate for help. He had 8 puppies whose mother had been taken by the pound a week ago. The puppies were alive!

Armando and his wife were poor. They had opened their home to Peeta and her pups after she had given birth in the street.

When Peeta was captured by the pound, Armando went after the truck on his rickety tricycle and begged to have the dog back so she could care for her pups.

But Armando had no money to pay the fine.

So instead, Armando and his wife nurtured and cared for the puppies themselves as their mother would if she were there.

Without Armando and his wife, there would have been no way that these puppies survived.

We met Armando and immediately brought the pups to where Peeta was being fostered.

Unfortunately Peeta had lost her milk, and along with it the maternal instinct to care for the pups.

Despite this, we fostered each puppy.

To date, Peeta and her puppies are growing in strength each day and many of the pups have already found their forever home.


For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare efforts in Playa del Carmen, click here.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters