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

This beloved traditional holiday song is the inspiration for our seasonal blog series, "12 Days/12 Ways", a promotional effort of goodwill we started last year to draw attention to 12 not-for-profit groups or charitable organizations in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya. So many people from around the world travel to the Riviera Maya during the holiday season. Many reach out to us via regional message boards and Facebook looking for a way to give back to the less fortunate residents in our local communities. 12 Days/12 Ways was started to help these generous, kind-hearted visitors find legitimate and worthy charitable organizations to support, addressing their particular needs for 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 or giving opportunity. Some 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 our hope to do this every year, with updated information and wish lists.

The "12 Day/12 Ways" list has not yet been completed for 2011. 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.


Tierra de AnimalesTierra  de Animales sanctuary was founded in March 2011 as a refuge for Cancun's forgotten and abandoned street dogs, known locally as ‘perros callejeros'. Animals rescued by Tierra de Animales from the streets now have a safe place to call home, and a place to heal from the unfortunate circumstances that left them alone and abandoned. The mission of Tierra de Animales is clear....to rescue, rehabilitate, sterilize, socialize and adopt.   Dogs who once had virtually no chance of survival, those that have been injured, abused and those simply abandoned or born on the streets. Now all have a second chance at a better life.  Tierra de Animales rescues dogs from Cancun, surrounding small villages and regularly rescues dogs who are on ‘death row' from the pound in Playa del Carmen.  Many dogs that no one else will help are rescued and rehabilitated by Tierra de Animales.  At TdA, they receive food, medicine, love and the chance to bond and play with other dogs who all share a history of neglect and abandonment. The sanctuary was founded and is operated by Ricardo Pimentel, who lives on the sanctuary property and cares for all of the dogs personally.

Tierra de AnimalesMost visitors to Mexico will immediately notice the large numbers of homeless street dogs and cats.  It is a very challenging problem, one that requires both the immediate rescue of animals in danger and aggressive spay and neuter campaigns to combat the overall situation.  Tierra de Animales works with local groups such as Coco's Cat Rescue in Playa del Carmen to promote responsible sterilization, to educate the public and the younger generations about the need to care properly for animals.  With the help of veterinarians from Coco's and also visiting veterinarians from Cuba in November 2011, TdA was able to organize a 3 day successful spay and neuter campaign in the neighborhood of Bonfil, Cancun.  Future plans include not only an onsite clinic to assist local animals near the sanctuary, but also to organize other mobile sterilization clinics to reach outlying and under-served small villages.

Tierra de Animales is located on the Cancun-Merida free highway (the ‘old' highway) roughly 25 kilometers west of Cancun, just a few kilometers shy of the small town of Leona Vicario.  It is an area of small ranches, agricultural land and jungle, and the perfect place for the sanctuary to be established and have room to grow in the future. Raw jungle land was purchased here only in March of 2011, and with many hard labored hours has been transformed into what it is today. There is plenty of fenced, wide open area for the dogs to run and play and also outdoor sheltered runs for dogs that need to remain kenneled for awhile for behavioral or medical reasons.  Also, the main building houses a bathing area, food storage and interior kennels for puppies or dogs who have special medical needs. 

Tierra de AnimalesWhile the overall area of the sanctuary is large, more work is being done to make room for ongoing needs. Due to the large number of injured and sick dogs that are rescued, the sanctuary is constructing a new building to serve as a quarantine area. An outdoor penned  and sheltered area will house new arrivals until they can be medically vetted, while an indoor area will house those receiving intensive care and needing isolation. While some of this building has been completed, more help is needed at this time to complete the roof and fit the building with basic necessities like plumbing, electricity and kennel materials. In addition, there are plans for more areas to be developed, as well as plans for a health and full-time sterilization clinic in the near future.

How Can YOU Help?

Make a Monetary Donation!
The development of the sanctuary has been a massive undertaking, and Tierra de Animales relies solely on personal donations to operate, construct and feed all of the hungry mouths every day. The sanctuary can receive donations through PAYPAL via the email address donate@helpmexicandogs.org. The website for the sanctuary, www.tierradeanimales.org  (and also www.helpmexicandogs.com and .org) is being re-developed at the time of this publication, however should be fully operational before the close of 2011, and will allow for various types of donations, individual project and dog sponsorship opportunities. Tierra de Animales is currently finalizing its AC charity status in Mexico, and tax deductible receipts will be available soon for Mexican citizens. Also, donors from the US and Canada will soon be able to make tax deductible contributions through the non-profit Lost Dog Foundation, which will serve animals in need in the Yucatan.   

Donate Food and Supplies!
Locally, donations of food and other items are always critically needed:

  • dry dog food (croquetas)
  • canned food for sick or older dogs and puppies
  • canned tuna and raw chicken for sick dogs and dogs with mange
  • anti-flea/tick solutions like Bovitraz/Amitraz and topical treatments
  • heartworm preventative
  • dog shampoo (medicated for mange and regular)
  • large plastic or metal dog feeding bowls, plastic 1 gallon and 5 gallon buckets
  • brooms and pooper scoopers, bleach and disinfectant cleaners, towels and paper towels
  • donations of bags of dog food, or cash donations earmarked for food purchase
  • antibiotics...particularly doxyclycline and amoxicillin, as well as pain medications
  • wound care supplies...topical antibiotic, Veterycin, antiseptics
  • Ivomec (ivermectin) for mange treatment
  • heartworm/erhlichia tests (Snap 3dx or 4dx)
  • plastic travel crates suitable for airline shipping
  • absorbable sutures, (2-0, 3-0) syringes and needles
  • adjustable nylon collars

Tierra de AnimalesVolunteer!
Volunteers are always welcome at the sanctuary! The dogs LOVE visitors! Saturdays are days when local residents are encouraged to come and help wash the dogs, play with them, help clean kennels and the grounds, and many more projects.  Other days are generally fine for visitation as well, however, please contact the sanctuary before visiting as there is no ‘staff' there, only a staff of one usually!  Additionally there are local events that the sanctuary always needs volunteers' help with. Please get in touch if you can help in this way.  In the US and Canada, volunteers are needed to help establish networks of potential foster and adoptive homes for the rescued dogs. Assistance is needed in fundraising, marketing and general promotion. Please contact Lisa Edwards at helpmexicandogs[at]hotmail.com for more information.

Become a Fan!
Become a fan of Tierra de Animales on Facebook and follow along with all of the developments and see how happy a former street dog can be when given a second chance!  Get in touch today and see how you can help the dogs of Tierra de Animales.

Buy Cool TdA Merchandise!
Tierra de Animales merchandise is also available for purchase: sanctuary t-shirts, street dog t-shirts,  women's tank tops, beverage ‘koozies' and also 2012 calendars, hot off the press! Contact the email above to purchase, or via the Tierra de Animales Facebook page.

Tierra de AnimalesAdopt!
With over 155 dogs currently residing on the grounds of the sanctuary, Tierra de Animales is actively seeking loving adoptive families for their dogs. Local adoptions are not enough to handle all of the need, and adoptions to the US, Canada and elsewhere are very much needed. Arrangements can easily be made for transporting adopted dogs to the US and Canada, and dogs can be checked as ‘luggage' on several airlines with just a little notice.  Tierra de Animales can also arrange to ship a dog to you if you choose to adopt. Tierra de Animales works closely with Canadian animal welfare group CANDI International, Wharf Rescue (Edmonton, Canada) and Pet Project Rescue (Minneapolis, Minnesota),  who all assist in placing dogs in foster and permanent care in Canada and the US. Please consider adopting a great dog from this sanctuary. By adopting a dog and providing a nice home, you also make room for another needy ex-street dog to be rescued by Tierra de Animales.

All adoption, donation and general questions can be sent to Lisa Edwards, the US/Canada and general representative for the sanctuary, at the email address  helpmexicandogs[at]hotmail.com or via Facebook

Tierra de Animales