"On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...."

This beloved traditional holiday song is the inspiration for a seasonal blog series, "12 Days/12 Ways", an effort to draw attention to 12 worthy not for profit groups in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya and address their particular needs during this holiday season.

For each of the 12 days of Christmas, the BuyPlaya Blog, better known as "Life's a Beach" will spotlight a charitable organization. Many of these may already be familiar to locals and frequent travelers to this area. Others, perhaps those most in need of recognition and support, may be new to our readers. It is my plan to do this every year, with updated information and wish lists.

The "12 Day/12 Ways" list has been completed for 2010. The organizations are listed in no particular order. If you have a favorite charity that you feel belongs on this list, collect all of the information you can and I will be happy to consider your group for inclusion next year.


Isla AnimalsIsla Animals is a non-profit organization founded by Isla Mujeres resident Alison Sawyer Current continuing a project started by Amigos de los Animales in 2002. Isla Animals  is dedicated to decreasing the unwanted pet population on Isla Mujeres, Mexico through on-going spay/neuter programs, education, vaccinations and adoption. Initially Alison and her husband Jeff opened their beautiful home on North Beach and agreed to foster litters of puppies until they were old enough to put up for adoption. This came to be known as “Puppy Camp”. However, the numbers of litters grew and they gracefully adapted their home to accommodate these pups in need.

Keeping on top of these growing dogs became a monumental task. However, as was inevitable, some of the dogs reached adulthood without finding homes and full grown dogs in need of a home began showing up at the gates. Alison lovingly accepted every one of them, regardless of how mangy or sickly they were, and nursed them to physical and psychological health. “Puppy Camp” became a whole new place. After fostering up to 40 dogs at a time, Alison created the Dog Gone Foundation, an adoption program that has placed hundreds of beautiful pups in loving homes.

Isla Animals Goals:

To provide free spay/neuter clinics to help control the animal population on Isla Mujeres.
To provide free or reduced cost veterinary services and vaccinations
To offer animal foster care and promote adoptions in Mexico, USA and Canada
To educate pet owners about humane animal treatment, care and responsibility
To do all of the above in the most humane, compassionate way possible

With your help, Isla Animals can continue to provide these necessary services to the people and the animals of Isla Mujeres.

Isla Animals 

What can you do?

Donate Funds: Isla Animals, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization, is always in need of additional funding. The programs are funded via donations and 100% of the donations received go to helping the animals. Only with your help can this wonderful work continue. You may make a onetime donation,  sign up to donate monthly or you can donate a certain amount of spays and neuters in someone's name. The surgery costs about $20.00usd per animal and it's the bottom line solution to reducing the overpopulation and suffering of unwanted animals in Mexico.

Checks can be made payable to: Alison Sawyer or Isla Animals and sent to the following address:

Alison Sawyer
1750 30th St #197
Boulder CO 80301

Donate Supplies: There are many expenses associated with caring for animals. Any donation is highly appreciated. We are always in need of basic supplies such as flea and tick medication & shampoo, collars, leashes, food, bowls, toys, etc. Medical supplies are in great demand as well as they lower our operating costs greatly thereby increasing the number of animals we can reach. See the list below for medical and non medical supplies we can use.

Medical Supplies Needed:

  • Syringes 1 cc, 3 cc, 5 cc and 10 cc
  • Surgical blades – #15, #11
  • Surgical gloves- STERILE- sizes 6.5 to 8.5
  • Suture material, 2-O PDS/MSA/vicryl/maxon/polysorb/monosorb
    3-O PDS/MSA/Vicryl/maxon/polysorb/monosorb
    the above sutures need a 1/2 curved cutting surgical suture needle
  • Surgical instruments
  • Spay hooks, all sizes
  • Sterile drape
  • Disposable face masks and disposable head caps
  • Betadyne hand scrub
  • Prevails Betadyne scrubs #20
  • Sterile gauze
  • Stethoscope
  • IV sets – microdrip and macrodrip
  • IV catheters – 20 guage, 22 guage, 24 guage
  • Needles 18 – 23 gauge
  • IV fluids: dextrose 5% in water, lactated ringers solution and sodium chloride
  • Triple antibiotic eye ointment
  • Antibiotics – injectable long acting amoxycillin,
    – doxycycline 100 ml. tabs

Non Medical Supplies Needed:

    • Muzzles
    • Leashes
    • Food dishes
    • Animal Vitamins – especially puppy vitamins or supplemental gels
    • Eye drops
    • Ear cleaner
    • Ear drops
    • Q-tips
    • Clippers
    • Tweezers and scissors
    • Cages
    • Towels/Sheets
    • Non-sterile gauze
    • Thermometers


Buy the Book: Allison Current is an accomplished writer and the author of the murder mystery No Urn for the Ashes an exciting story set in part on the island of Isla Mujeres. Proceeds from the sale of this book go to support Isla Animals and its ongoing projects and clinics.

*Note: The book is good. Really, quite good. The story is well constructed. The characters are believable and compelling. I picked it up on one of our last trips to the island. I wasn’t expecting much having plodded through dozens of self indulgent novels all based on the “how I moved to paradise” theme. This is a great read for the beach or the ski lodge, whichever suits your fancy.


Volunteer:  Volunteers are always needed and welcome! There is always a need for people to help walking dogs, socializing puppies, bathing and grooming, cleaning and making repairs to kennels etc.

During spay neuter clinics which are scheduled throughout the year, help is needed with trapping, registration, recovery, organizing and cleaning, plus pick up and return of animals.

You can volunteer whatever amount of time you can afford and you’ll have a vacation experience that will be fun and fulfilling.

For those people with allergies (like me) there is administrative work that can be done as well as research and grant writing. These things can even be done from the comfort of your home or office no matter where you live!


Isla Animals


For more information:
Alison Sawyer Current