A vist to Isla Animals…one thing we did on our winter vacation.

Skip was my favorite puppy at Isla Animals. He was a bit shy, but very sweetAs I have mentioned in previous posts,  Jim and I have been visiting Isla Mujeres, Mexico for several years.  We talk from time to time about spending more than just a vacation there – actually staying for an extended period.

While I can feature myself there for months on end -visiting with friends, going to the beach, reading, shopping, learning the language – I always worry about what Jim would do.  I am afraid that after the initial “vacation” mode wore off, my busy husband would start to get bored.

At home he spends much of his leisure time with our boys – Max and Morley. Max and Morley are "the boys" on Squirrel Hill He was raised in a dog loving family, and he enjoys his time with them.  They are his companions and his main interest here on the Hill. When we leave them he misses them so this year I had an idea…

I had been hearing about Alison Sawyer Current and her work with the animals on the island for several years.  We have friends who have adopted dogs from her, and we have witnessed first-hand the improvement of “dog situation” on the island over the past several years.

When we started visiting Isla in the mid 1990’s there were many stray dogs that roamed the streets and beaches.  Since dogs are pack animals, and most of these strays had not been treated very well by the people that they came in contact with, they could be aggressive and troublesome to locals and visitors alike.  We had actually heard of several instances of dogs menacing people walking on the streets in certain areas. The local government’s way of dealing with the situation was to poison the offenders. This cruel treatment was the norm.  Since the dogs were not spayed or neutered, the population continued to grow, and the problem grew worse.

When Alison and her husband moved to the island (around the same time that Jim and I started making our annual trip) they were troubled by the problem, so they decided to do something to help.  She actually tells her story much better than I do…here is a video of an interview that explains how she got to where she is today.

This year I was determined that we would finally meet her.  We were hoping to be on the island during one of the spay and neuter clinics that Isla Animals, the organization that she runs, hold periodically on the island and the mainland, or to help with the dogs in some other way.

We weren’t really sure as to how to contact her, but I had been following her work on the Isla Animals Facebook page , so I sent her a message.  She responded with an invitation to stop by anytime, so one afternoon we did exactly that. It was a wonderful visit, but we didn’t really do much because they had just had a small spay and neuter clinic the day before. We did get a chance to visit with Alison, and to meet a few special cases that required some extra love and attention – including Hector (click on this link to see Hector’s Facebook page, which contains his story and many photos). Hector was an adorable little guy that was brought to one of the spay and neuter clinics.  He had several problems, the worst of which was distemper. He fought very hard to overcome his illness, and on that day he was resting in another room because he was so sick.  Unfortunately soon after we left the island they lost him, but the page remains as an honor to him; Alsion now posts daily updates there to let us all know what is happening with the rescue.

Later in the week while having  dinner with our friends Tiffany and Brad we mentioned our visit and I talked about how much we wanted to visit again. Tiffany told me that she and her children go and help on Monday afternoons after school.  She offered Jim and I a ride over to Alison’s house the following Monday and we jumped at the chance.Jim playing with one of the pups at Isla Animals

When we got there it became apparent that helping often just meant interacting with the dogs so that they could become more socialized. We had a great time playing with the pups.  I made a special friend of a skittish little guy named Skip (pictured at the beginning of this post).  He is what they call a “low-rider” – a short legged (almost like a Corgi) island dog; my favorite kind.

We spent a few minutes with Alison and she told us that at that time she had over 40 dogs living with  her! We asked what we could possibly do to help and she told us that although she gets many generous one-time monetary donations to help with the many spay and neuter clinics that her organization sponsors, or the special cases that need extra treatments –  the daily cost of caring for these animals is high. She said that often she and her husband use their own funds to make sure that the animals needs are met.  She expressed her hope to generate regular monthly donations so that they had a real operating budget to work with.

Jim and I decided right away that we were interested. As soon as we returned home we signed up for a monthly donation through PayPal. It is not a large amount of money – barely more than a few cups of coffee a month – but we both feel very strongly that Isla Animals is a necessary service for the people of the island.  The work that they have done over the years has improved the quality of care for many island animals, and has done a fantastic job controlling the stray population. Many local people are being educated about caring for their pets and often come to Alison and her husband for help. Jim and I feel that this is one way that we can give back to the island that has given us so much!

The other day on her Facebook site, Alison mentioned that her 60th birthday is coming up on April 26. She said that her only wish this year is to raise $2000 in monthly pledges to help with the daily operations.  It sounds like a lot of money, but Isla Animals’ Facebook pages have over 10,000 followers. If few as 80 of those followers pledge $25 per month or even if  320 people donated $6.25 per month they would meet that goal.  Isla Animals is a 501c3 US non-profit organization and can give donors annual statements for tax purposes.

I am hoping that by sharing our experiences we can help her to generate a few more donations.  Donations can be done online through PayPal by visiting their website www.islaanimals.org and clicking on the “Donate Now” button.

Here are a few pictures of Tiffany’s beautiful children and some of the pups that live there now:My friend Tiffany's son Barlow and his namesake Barlito at Isla AnimalsThis little puppy is one of the many that have been cared for at Isla AnimalsMy friend Tiffany's daughter and the cute puppies at Isla AnimalsMy friend Tiffany's children Lior and Barlow with pups at Isla Animals

Special thanks to my friend Tiffany and Isla Animals for some of the photos and the video 

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