Slideshow: Cozumel comes together to show their love of dogs and cats

Watch this slideshow of participants in the Cozumel "Walk for Animals".

When you’re an adorable 4 month old puppy, you can get away with just about anything – even a little bit of cheating.  In fact, you might even be encouraged to do it if it means being endlessly snuggled during a long walk around a tropical island….not too bad for a “cheater”, huh?

At the Humane Society of Cozumel (HSC) Walk for Paws event  “Caminata Para Patitas”  in early June, puppies like sweet little Nala - a puppy that had been abandoned at the shelter with a terrible case of mange - were more than welcome to cheat!

Caminata Para Patitas was held Saturday June 2nd, in order to raise funds for HSC to provide free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to animals on Cozumel Island.  A long-time IFAW partner, HSC has had a permanent sterilization fund for the last 15 years.  But an ever increasing demand for sterilization due to successful public awareness and outreach initiatives means those funds quickly disappear!

The goal of the event was for each participant or individual to raise funds in the name of HSC, and whoever received the most sponsors and most money would win a prize. Each person who joined the walk with their dogs paid a fee of 25 pesos to join the walk, plus the additional funds each one was able to raise. Some of them - like little Nala - cheated and actually didn’t walk all the way. Instead she was held like a princess and enjoyed every moment. (We love that kind of cheating!)

All week long we had cloudy days and even some rain, but that day was clear sky with almost no clouds, but super hot! Both Joaquín  and I were running from one side to the other of the line, he was trying to get the best pictures (I think he did great! But tell us what do you think?) and I was making sure all the dogs were happy, healthy and comfortable (no heat stroke!). I have to tell you - neither of us are into running, but that day we ran and sweat like nobody else!

As a veterinarian my particular concern was 4 pugs, one of them a senior and a Siberian Huskey.  Fortunately everything went ok and people and their dogs were driven in a truck back to the starting point after the event finished to avoid any dogs and owners from overheating. (This truck was donated to HSC thanks to IFAW supporters, in order to pick up owned pets and shuttle them to HSC’s clinic for spaying and neutering, and then back to their homes the same day. During the event it certainly had another important job.)

There were also some HSC dogs at the event that participated with “Adopt Me” signs, and were walked by volunteers and people who wanted to participate but didn’t have a dog. Between the participants there were locals, expats and all kind of dogs, from malixes (“malix” means “mutt” Mayan) to purebreds - all joining together for a great cause!

Owners, volunteers and over 60 dogs walked by the seafront and arrived to Playa Puesta del Sol (Sunset beach) to enjoy snacks, sodas and listen to the winners of the raffle prizes.

Local media was at the event as well, with local newspaper (Novedades) and local TV Channel 5 there to document the event. Even the local media enjoyed themselves!

After everyone went home we had a nice breakfast and started counting donated money! The results were heartening – over $2,000 donated by the community to help community animals. It was a wonderful event that not only made a difference for the animals coming in to HSC, but helped bring the community together to celebrate a love for dogs and cats.

I know that these types of events have become quite popular in countries around the world as a way to garner support for local animal welfare organizations and humane societies. I’d love to hear what other types of events you’ve participated in or organized to raise funds and bring your community together for animals.

Did you have as much fun as we did?

-- EF

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy