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Dogs in Mexico

For any animal lover who travels to or lives in Mexico, there are few sorer (is that a word?) subjects than the state of dogs in this country. Anyone who has driven around the countryside or spent any time in the cities has seen far too many starving and mangy dogs. But the whole dog situation here in Merida seems to be undergoing a change, slowly but surely.

There is an entire segment of Mexican society that treats its dogs the same way they are treated in the US or Europe. They are valued family pets, given their vaccinations, taken to the vet when they are sick, groomed regularly, etc.

The poorer Mexicans consider dogs a nuisance, an extra mouth to feed and often a dangerous animal to be avoided. And of course, because these dogs are starving and often sick, they can be dangerous and often should be avoided.

The disconnect here is that Mexicans in general do not approve of sterilizing their dogs (it’s a Catholic thing, we hear) and/or they can’t afford it. Vets seem to charge a lot of money to do it and are just now realizing that maybe it’s in everyone’s best interest if they lower the price.

Which brings me to AFAD. In Spanish, AFAD stands for Albergue Fransiscano del Animal Desprotegido. In English, that is Franciscan Shelter for Unprotected Animals. The woman who runs it is a woman named Lidia Saleh. She runs the shelter, which consists of a large plot of land which was donated to this cause. On the land is a two room house that Lidia is fixing up to eventually be a surgical station and a storage room. The dogs have recently-built covered cages with concrete floors. The shelter rescues dogs and cats from the streets and also takes dogs and cats whose owners no longer want them.

One of her rescues is a big Staffordshire Bull Terrier who had apparently been used for fighting. He still sports a few cuts that are healing, but his disposition is sweet and loving with humans. This picture shows him sitting on his new mat that we had just brought to him and thanking me in his own doggy way. Another one of AFAD’s rescues is a purebred Doberman who was given to her because he is 6 years old and his owner doesn’t want to have to deal with him getting old and dying. Obviously, he’s nowhere near death, but he’s also not acclimated to other dogs, so he has to stay in a pen by himself.

Most of the dogs are together in the main pen. Last time we were there, there were about 30 grown dogs, including beautiful golden labs, mutts, a dalmation and about 15 puppies. There were a few sick dogs that are being cared for and nursed back to health as well. The cats and kittens are in a separate location. What surprised us the most was how friendly, gentle and easygoing all these dogs are. We’ve gone into the main pen a few times now to meet and greet the dogs, and they all just want to be loved, petted and scratched behind the ears. There hasn’t been any fighting or growling and they all seem pretty happy.

The shelter is staffed full time with one person who works hard to keep it clean, and feeds the dogs as well as watches over the dogs being nursed back to health. Lidia busily promotes her dog shelter to the Spanish-speaking population so that Meridanos looking for a dog will come rescue one from the shelter instead of buying one in a store. She carefully checks out the new owners and their homes to be sure that each dog is going to a better place.

If you are interested in adopting a dog or a cat, please call AFAD and arrange to meet the dogs there. Or just drop by between the hours of 10 in the morning and 6 pm.

If you would like to volunteer, they would always like people to come and play with the dogs. And dogs like the Doberman need to be walked…a perfect job for a volunteer. If you are too busy to walk a dog, but you want to help, AFAD needs donations. Not just money, but things like dog and cat food, bones and chew toys, blankets and towels (to line the boxes that they sleep in so they can stay warm at night), medicines, shampoos, etc. They are also hoping to build more kennels, so any sort of construction materials are welcome donations as well.

It would also be a big help if an English-speaking person here in Merida would help Lidia with her fundraising efforts. Just running the shelter and improving it so that it can help more dogs is heart-breaking and back-breaking work. Lidia also needs to organize dinners and other fundraisers to raise the money. If you are interested in donating money to the organization, please do so through the Paypal donation button at the end of this article.

For more information, check AFAD’s website. Or you can email at afadmerida [at] gmail [dot] com or call the shelter at 999-920-5019 or call Lidia on her cel phone at 044 999 947 6319. If you ask, Lidia can send you a full list of the medicines, supplies and other things that the shelter would like donated. *Anything* is appreciated and will be put to good use. So don’t throw old towels, moving blankets or throw rugs away if they get ruined. Wash them as best you can and donate them to AFAD.

If you want to drop by, you will find the shelter on the road to Cholul, just past the Periferico, on the left across from the University Modelo. Just look for this sign. For more information on AFAD, please read their website here (in both Spanish and English). About halfway down the page, there is a list of items that you can donate that would be greatly appreciated.

The animals thank you in advance for your time, attention and kind consideration.

* * * * *

If you wish to donate money to AFAD, you may do so by clicking the Paypal button below. Please make a note with your payment that your donation if for AFAD. The money will go into our account and you will have to trust us that we’ll give it to the animals. We will… you have our word!

Lidia and AFAD are not the only one taking on the issue of caring for the “unprotected animals” in the Yucatan, but they are the most established group in Merida. Other organizations that are helping animals in the Yucatan include:

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84 Responses to “Dogs in Mexico”

  1. Here’s an update on the AFAD organization. Lidia recently explained to us that one of the most difficult things to overcome is the racism that locals have towards “street dogs” or “Mexican dogs”. You know these dogs…they are short-haired, floppy-eared, dark-nosed and light-coated dogs, usually with long legs and big chests. They are the original DOG and the locals call them “indios” and often don’t want to adopt one of these dogs. They want dogs they can show off.

    As the proud owners of two Mexican street dogs, URL and Mali, we can attest to the sweet nature of these dogs. They make great pets… all it takes is a little food and a lot of love. We are often stopped on the street and asked “Que raza es?” (What race is it?) when referring to our dogs. Most locals are surprised to hear that we found them both on the street, but I remind them that this is what dogs can look like if you feed them and love them.

    If you are a dog lover, and coming to the Yucatan and want to help, consider asking your vet for any unused medicine for dogs. They also could use some human medicines like Flagyl, Amoxicilin, Keflex, Peptobismol, and childrens vitamins. The list of other things that are needed include Selsun Azul shampoo, Pediasure or Ensure, Cotton, Alchohol, surgical gloves, iodine, flea and tick collars. They could always use towels, sheets, dog beds of any kind, toys, balls, leashes, brushes and pet carriers. For use in maintaining the facility, donations of clorox, brooms, newspapers, boxes and garbage bags are also always appreciated. They are trying to finish roofs for the pens where they keep the dogs so that they can keep the rain out during the rainy season (and in hurricanes). For this, any donations of gravel, cement, cement blocks, paint or trees and plants of any kind are also much appreciated.

    If you cannot donate things, donating your time is always appreciated. The puppies need people to play with so that they become acclimated to people. And the big dogs just need love and attention. All the dogs in the facility are vaccinated and safe to play with.

    If you are coming to the Yucatan and want to bring donations, contact us here at Yucatan Living (just leave a comment) and we’ll arrange a place for you to drop off your donations here in the Centro.

    Woof! Woof! The dogs thank you!

  2. Dear working Gringa,

    How wonderful it is to hear of someone who loves dogs and cats as much as I do. You hear horror stories about Mexico all the time. I have heard my share. When ANYONE hears I am moving there they can not wait to tell me how there 5th cousins, best friends, sisters,mother-in-law was attacked by a street dog. She had to climb a street poll to escape. In her opinion all these dogs, and the owners, should be thrown off a cliff. I have been working with dogs for 35 years. I have a knowledge of the animal. 99.9% of dogs just want love. (just like children) I look forward to getting moved in February 2007, getting settled and pitching in with Silvia in helping in anyway I can. We truely enjoy reading your articles and watching your vidios about “home”. Thank-you for what you are doing.


  3. [...] If you don’t know about AFAD, read our article about the dog shelter run by this group. [...]

  4. I live in the Lake Chapala area, outside Guadalajara, and with many foreigners here there are at least three shelters and many happy stories, though far too many sad ones too.

    Here’s a link to a page where I talk about some Mexican street dogs I met, at the bottom of the page:

  5. Don’t forget Progreso. There is a very active Protective Animal Welfare organization there – and they always need help too. For information call: Dra. Beatrice Carajal Garcia
    Calle 29 # 98B between 66 & 68
    Tel:935 07 75
    (such a good vet – can’t say enough nice things about Beatrice and her husband!)

  6. thanx for kindness

  7. [...] Lidia and a very tiny staff work very hard to provide the dogs (mostly) and cats (some) that they rescue with the best care. They are always in need of donations in money, food, medicine, blankets, towels, leashes, toys… you name it. [...]

  8. You guys should set up a pay pal account so people can send you donations through there. =)

  9. Good idea…and it’s done! The button for donations is at the bottom of the article. Let’s hope we can get some money for this deserving group…

  10. Hello:

    My website is almost done (took too long), I would like to tell me wich link I can have it it to link all the people that visits my site to AFAD in Merida.


  11. Hola, Jessica!
    Have your website link to this page:

  12. HELLO:



  13. i like this page very well, cause i love dogs if you have any intresting information about dogs please tell me, but i’m still in the age of 11. i have a friend he also like dogs. his name is Axel.

  14. Hello:

    Please check this website, you will find your banner at the end of the pages.

    Right now I am having problems getting the messages from the website, but I am working on it.


  15. Ode to Francisco– I was just in Valladolid where my family and I met up with a stray Mexican dog that if I had known there was rescue available for him, I would have brought him there. This dog was probably a couple years old and very thin. One evening my daughter patted his head and said a few kind words. The next night we were back in the central square and he found her and obviously remembered her. He then stayed with us and trotted with a spring in his step right next to us all the way back to the place we were staying. It was a distance. I didn’t time it but it had to be at least 15 minutes, maybe more. We came upon other dogs along the way which he would check out. A couple times I thought we had lost him to the other dogs, but a short time later he would be right back with us, trotting along his thin body and still with a spring in his step. My daughter named him Francisco. At the door where we were staying, I did touch his head briefly, then said stay and we went in. The next morning, a couple staying at the same place as us said they saw a dog curled up at the door when they came in the night before. Francisco was waiting for us, but he was not there when we left around 10am. Francisco owned us, I wanted to own him. We left the next day (Nov.13th) and never saw him again. I wish I could transport him to the 10 acres we own in the country. He would be in doggy heaven. As you can tell, I love dogs and I could see this dogs spirit was wonderful. In Francisco’s name, I will be making a donation here to AFAD. And, if anyone sees Francisco, please let me know. Cindy

  16. Hi,
    My name is Stephanie and I’m so excited to see people with such big hearts helping the dogs and cats here in Merida. I’m from Washington state but have been living here in Merida for over two years now. The animals plight here has been an ongoing burden … especially feeling like there was nothing that I could do. We’ve given a home to one kitten a family couldn’t care for anymore and our second cat came to us off the street. My husband and I both want a dog now though too and I at first was thinking of bringing my Jack Russel down to live with us … but when I realized how, even though small, the difference of giving one life a loving home (plus my dog Banjo is very happy with my parents in the states … it was mainly me that missed him) my husband and I decided adopting a friend from here would be the best. I’ll let you know how our story turns out. God bless every person who changes even just one of these dogs/cats lives. I hope more people jump on board.

  17. I was in in Mexico last year visting and am returning in late May this year, staying in Merida. I can remember driving through the countryside on the way out to Coba and my heart just broke seeing all the strays walking around. Is it ok to feed these poor dogs as a tourist? Will the locals be upset at this? I am making a donation to the AFAD as well but am concerned about the possibility of mange and other contagious diseases these animals carry. Is it the perception of dogs in the area that makes them homeless?

  18. It breaks our hearts daily, believe me. And it is one of the reasons we promote AFAD so much. Yes, it is okay to feed these dogs, but do be careful. If they look mean or scared, don’t approach them. Just leave something for them or throw it to them. Many of the street dogs are amazingly kind and sweet, which never ceases to amaze us.

    There are many many reasons that there are so many homeless dogs here. One, they may not be homeless, just wandering around because their owners don’t care for them. And who is to say which is better: wandering the streets or cooped up in a dark garage or small patio all day and night? Sometimes dogs are mistreated because people are poor. They just don’t have enough to feed them or take care of them, but they like or need them around for protection. This is true in many pueblos around the Yucatan. Or sometimes because they don’t think they can feel anything. There is a lot of education that needs to happen here.

    There are many people and organizations trying to improve things in the Yucatan. We are going to be writing a letter and taking up a petition to ask the State to enforce their animal protection laws soon. We think that if the State knew how disturbed tourists and expat residents were by the state of dogs and other animals here, they might be more willing to do something. Right now, they often turn away and ignore unsavory behavior towards animals. So stay tuned, there will be more you can do soon!

  19. I don’t do the normal (today) financial things; credit cards, pay pal, etc. How could I make a donations?

  20. If you are in Merida, you can always come to the Yucatan Living or the AFAD location and give cash. If you are NOT in Merida, you can arrange to deliver money through Western Union.

    If you are coming here from the States, you can bring things for the dog shelter: old towels and rugs, veterinary medicine, soaps, etc. See AFAD’s website for lists of things they need:

    If you want to do that, contact us at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com and we’ll go from there.

  21. I went to Cabo San Lucas this summer, we rented a car and explored the areas outside of Cabo. Even though we traveled to some beautiful places, we learned that there is another side to Mexico. In contrast to the beautiful beaches and cool summer nights, we saw many starving, disease ridden dogs and cats scrounging in parking lots and even on the side of highways. I saw a dead burro on the side of the road and one tide to a tree with no food, water or shade in sight. I hate to think how many of these animals are wandering around, dying of hunger and diseases.

    But there was a ray of hope for these animals. When Bill and I went to a jazz/reggae festival at a beach club in Los Santos, we met two retired people who were trying to adopt out five fat, cute puppies who were found on the side of a highway starving to death. These wonderful people who were from the states and who are spending their retirement years in Los Santos to help these animals were caretakers at El Refugio which is dedicated to rescuing homeless, sick, starving, or abused dogs, cats and horses in the towns of Todos Santos and Pescadero. This organization will pay for medical care and feeding of these animals until they are adopted.

    These people have taken on a huge responsibility and really need lots of help to continue their efforts. Right now, due to the failing health of the owners of the ranch, they will need to sell it. However, if there is lots of support, I’m sure their efforts would continue. Therefore, I’m asking you to please check out their website and consider making a contribution, or helping in some other way.

    With lots of love and blessings,

  22. I tried to donate but it would not allow me on your website stating something could not be decrypted???

  23. Well, we aren’t sure why that button stopped working, but we fixed it. Please donate for the dogs of Mexico… a little goes a very long way! Thank you!!

  24. Can anyone staying in Mérida, and familiar with AFAD, please help?

    We rescued a brave, filthy, stinky little skeleton of a kitten during our recent dental visit to Mérida… Granted, I am desperately in love with animals, but I somehow got particularly attached to the little beast in record time! I seriously considered bringing him back home, but he was a little too small for regulations, so we found AFAD thru you guys and taxied him there before we had to leave. The lady was very warm and seemed very caring and kind, and indeed, we were pleased to find such a clean and ordered shelter where the dogs were obviously well taken care of! We said goodbye to little Panucho, made a donation, and I left crying silly and heartbroken… but still glad there are wonderful animal lovers dedicated to provide havens for the brave pets of Mexico so sorely in need of help. That was on Wednesday, november 5th, 2008, and since back, I have been passing the AFAD website and links around to encourage folks to donate: I left our infos while there, and wrote to the contacts provided on their website, but emails (written in Spanish) remain unanswered about how Panucho is doing… Can anyone help? He is a white with beige-greyish tipped little thing full of spirit, with gorgeous turquoise eyes, and he was about over a month when we brought him in… I trust that he is indeed in good hands there, and read that they screen potential homes carefully, but would still love to know if he’s healthy, has been adopted or not, and perhaps get a photo from his new family?? There is a possibility I could go back to Mexico, and if he’s still there, it would be a sign I should take him with me this time! If you’d like to get pictures of him or my contacts, please leave a reply here… in any event, thanks again for this wonderful website, and to anyone involved with taking care of the animals of Yucatan! :’-)

  25. … And a possibility to win 10000$ US for a local shelter??? They are having a voting contest here, on… I’m not sure if they would include Mexican shelters, but Canadians ones are in, so it’s worth a shot!! I sent the link to AFAD since they need to register themselves, but maybe someone could help translate in English if needed? Here’s the link:

    If AFAD can indeed join, I vow to move mountains to make as many people vote as possible to help them win this much-needed money! :-)

  26. My wife and I are bringing our dog/family member Greta with us in February to the Mexico. We are concerned about her having the 3 year vaccine for rabies and the sites i see say it should only be done yearly, can you say if we are going to have a problem with this?


    David, Athena, and Greta Nichols

  27. Hola! All you will need to bring Greta into Mexico is an international health form. Any vet will have that form and can fill it out for you. It has to be filled out within 30 days of your border crossing, so should be one of the last things you do before you leave.

    Have a great trip!

  28. Awesome, and Thank You, but the site says it has to be up to one year rabies shot, Ours is for 3 years, We are concerned that they wont recognize this. Any further help would be Great,

  29. i love this website its awsome!

  30. I just returned from ten days in the Yucatan, and was so moved by the number of seemingly unwanted, flea=ridden, sad, starving and depressed dogs. When I got to Tulum I stayed in a cabana on the beach, and was immediately adopted by a dog with only use of three legs – the fourth leg was still attatched but retracted. I brought him some leftover meat and he was so gentle taking it from me. I fell in love, and cried for an hour before we left, playing with him on the beach. All he wanted was love and something for the terrible fleas and mange. I came back certain I would take action, and now I have a place to help me. I am an activist, and I want three-legs to be mine. How can I help – I want to go back.

  31. Rebecca,
    We can so totally relate. What do you want to do? The fact is, you CAN bring dogs from Mexico to the US as long as they have all their shots and are healthy. Do you want to do that? We can probably find a way… Email workinggringa [at] yucatanliving [dot] com and we’ll talk.

  32. Does the VIDAS group ever do spay/neuter campaigns in the Merida area? I see on their website that they a looking for another community or two to come to this year. I know they do fabulous work in cozumel each year. I stayed in the Progreso area last March and when traveling through the Chelem/Chuburna area was just sickened by the amount of strays/neglected animals in these fishing villages. Perhaps Yucatan Living could make a plea for help from them. Thanks for bringing awareness of this problem to your readers and encouraging donations to worthwhile groups like AFAD and Dr. Beatrice’s rescue organization in Progreso.

  33. Dear all,

    I’m the owner of two ex-straydogs of spain, and I really appreciate everybody’s initiative helping these creatures all over the world.
    I was disgusted when I saw this video of a gang in Mexico burning a stray alive
    and am wondering who could help proclaiming this barbarian act or even sue out a complaint.

    Any ideas?

    Chris (Germany)

  34. Chris…
    Honestly, we can’t even click on that link and caution anyone who thinks about it as well. We hate to even READ about it, let alone see it. If you want to contact someone who might be able to do something about this, we can give you two links:

    The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA):


    The website for this documentary, Companions to None, about the dog situation in Mexico (we haven’t been able to watch this, either, but we know from the trailer that it is a very well-done movie):

    You will see in this movie that there are some organizations in Mexico City working towards the solution of the multiple problems around dogs in Mexico (and around the world), and you may be able to contact them as well.

    Thank you so much for caring!

  35. I have a dog, but my dog is taken care of. She was an abandoned dog but we took her in, we feed her and try to get her heathly. It hurts me when i see dogs in the street and especially when they are so skinny. It makes me want to cry. If i could i would take every dog…

  36. We adopted a stray, starved, flea-ridden puppy we found next to a Cenote in the Valladolid area in August 2006 and brought her back to the States. I can only encourage anyone to do this. Our dog, Itza, is absolutely wonderful, a great family dog and super smart. She’s one of the brown, short-haired, three-legged, street dogs described above… best dog we ever had!
    Getting the dog home is not as difficult as you’d think. Airlines will charge around 100 USD for a carry-on (our puppy was so small/undersized, she fit in a cat carrier under the seat), and most Mexican vets know what paperwork to fill out to get the dog across the border. All they need is a “health certificate” and a rabies shot. The customs agents didn’t even look twice at the dog, they just confiscated our dog food. So if you are on vacation, and fall in love with a dog or cat – you can bring them with you!

  37. This blog is the only comfort I have found to the gut wrenching and haunting memories I bring back with me of the dogs I see every time I travel to the Yucatan and other areas of Mexico. We need that support for one another, as animal lovers, and the dogs need our compassionate action. Thank you. I’d like to know: What are the operational costs of AFAD? I need a number so I can have a concrete goal to help with fundraising. Blessings to all animal lovers– Terry.

  38. I also brought a stray home that I found on the beach in Cozumel. She was very ill and needed a great deal of medical care but it was so worth it – she has paid me back with her precious devotion a thousand times over.
    The key to the stray problem in Mexico is promoting a cultural change in attitude about spay/neutering. This is why it is so important to involve a group such as VIDAS that will bring their veterniarians into a place like Progreso and make their presence known with a free widespread spay/neuter campagin that can make a meaningful difference in the stray population.

  39. A have lost my dog in Mexico, her name is Punkylou, she is a Rhodiesian Ridgebac, if you can help me post her picture & more detailed info, please email me at : speedracerjenny [at] yahoo [dot] com or call me at 831-706-6908 ( thats in California). Anything would be appreicated. Sincerely, Jenn Howard

  40. Donate button above is not working – I am wanting to make a holiday donation to AFAD.

  41. Thank you for bringing that to our attention, Sharon!! The button should be working now!

  42. I stumbled onto this page… I brought a Mexican puppy back from Baja 7 years ago, and I can’t stress enough how smart he is… right from the beginning when I saw his tiny 6 week old face peeking out of a ditch on the dangerous Mex 1, I picked him up and I became his… yup, he is not mine, I am his… very protective and super smart, he is so unique looking I get stopped and asked what his breed is. The vet said his 3 prevalent breeds are shep/lab/whippet. It was really not hard to bring him back to Canada… parvo shots in Mex at 4 mos to get into US, then once in the US, a SPCA visit for rabies etc. and travel documents just in case for Canadian border. I had no trouble and it was worth it… so worth it!! I am so glad there are caring people who are doing something to help!

  43. I love how one lady can do so much. I have a dream to also start a shelter in Mexico and you are making me see it is possible. I will be visiting soon! I want to do all I can!!!
    All the best to the Animals and you in 2010

  44. We are looking to relocate to Merida Mexico with our dogs. We are very concerned regarding any regulations or restrictions. If you know of a website that would give us any/all details regarding the relocation process could you please forward it to my E-mail address? rdrmason [at] msn [dot] com

    Thank you for your time and considertion

  45. In our experience, the only thing you need to bring a dog or cat into Mexico is an international health certificate from a vet in the United States. Last we heard, that certificate had to have been issued within five days of your border crossing.

    We will look into the details and publish something more definitive soon.

  46. Hi there! Just so happy to know there are more people doing this in other parts of Mexico. I have lived here in Oaxaca and have rescued dozens of dogs off the street and have found homes for most of them. Five have stayed with my husband and I. It’s so true, I am constantly stopped on the street when walking my dogs and asked what breed they are. They are surprised to find that they are not “fine” dogs, but street dogs. Definitely there is a disgust at neutering the dogs although there are many free campaigns here. Although there are a handful of nationals who truly don’t mind the street dogs, it’s definitely the extranjeros who win the majority for adopting the street dogs. The locals will affirm it and applaud it even but nothing really changes. I just continue to walk my street dogs who are so happy and well fed to show all that they, too, can be pets that we can be proud of. Everything you say I can totally agree with here in Oaxaca. Good for you over there!

  47. This article just breaks my heart! My husband and I are very interested in retiring in a Latin American country, Mexico in particular. Are animals treated this way in all Latin American countries, or are any better than others? Reading this just makes me want to stay in the states…

  48. Bridget, this is a very complicated issue. It’s really a matter of education and frankly, there are plenty of places in the USA (think the rural South, for instance) where companion animals are not treated humanely. The difference is that the people who care here are just beginning to organize. So there’s no Mexican Humane Society that works all over the country, for instance. There are local organizations everywhere that try to help. There are many people who care about animals like you and we do. Poco a poco, the attitudes are changing in Mexico.
    So don’t let this keep you from moving here… just know that there is work to do when you get here, and your contribution will be much appreciated!!

  49. I just came back from a trip to Isla Mujeras and was heartbroken over a sweet puppy I would have loved to bring back home with me. On the Island, however, there were no vet clinics(that we could find or anyone knew about) and the Ferry would not let us take a dog across to Cancun without papers – or maybe in my broken spanish, they did not understand what I wanted to do. How do I overcome this next time? Does anyone have information about Island stray dogs and adopting them and bring them back to the US?

  50. Actually, there is a wonderful pet shelter on Isla Mujeres. Check out their website and contact them for any questions that you might have. We have a feeling you just ran into a case of ignorance or misunderstanding:

  51. I am staying at a fancy resort in Cancun and took a day trip to Tulum yesterday. Along the way I saw countless emaciated dogs and puppies. It was truly one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. I tried to buy some crackers for some of them to eat, but as you can imagine that only lasted for a few seconds as they are all so famished. I wonder if anything can be done in conjunction with tourists staying at these places? I know that my husband and I would have loved to have done something to help while we were here, even buying dog food to take to some of them or trying to get some sort of spay/nueter clinic set up? Population control is key and I know that Alley Cat allies in the US would be a great model for the dogs here. Please respond with any ideas. I will be returning home tomorrow but the memories of those poor, emaciated dogs will be with me for a long time to come, I think they are much more vivid than the beautiful beaches in fact. I don’t know how a place can have such a contrast and how people can feel OK about it at the end of the day!

  52. Theresa,
    As a tourist, you can certainly take some time out to visit the existing pet shelters in Cancun, Playa, Isla Mujeres and other places in the Yucatan. We have two here in Merida as well. Spay and neuter clinics are being held more and more often, education about caring for animals is slowing getting disemminated and progress is being made. Those of us who care about these animals adopt as many as we can (our household has two rescued street dogs, Mali and URL), and we care for as many others as possible. Here at the Eclectec offices, we also put fresh water in front of our house for thirsty street dogs. Everyone does what they can, and the improvements in the way things are is what keeps us feeling OK at the end of the day. There is still a lot to be done, of course! But there are many caring people doing it.
    When you return home, if you still want to help, you can donate to any of the above organizations. And if you REALLY want to help, adopt one of the dogs at the shelter and give them a good home. It’s easy to bring a dog home from Mexico!

  53. Hi Ellen,

    We have finally arrived in Merida from Vancouver with our two large dogs, one is an English Mastiff that some Mexicans have referred to as Cujo.


  54. Welcome, Ray!! How was the trip? Did you have any trouble getting into and around Mexico? I’m sure some of our readers would be interested in hearing about your experience…

  55. Hi Ellen,
    I sent you a donation for AFAD in memory of dog Lucy.


  56. [...] on shelters and for a thorough discourse on Yucatan dogs, please see the excellent article on Yucatan Living. The dog situation is a huge issue in [...]

  57. How do you find nice houses in Merida? I looked on the internet and only found run-down houses that looked to be in bad areas.

  58. Celia,
    One man’s rundown house is another man’s renovation opportunity. Here are a number of good real estate agencies in Merida. If you want to see more modern homes, check out the areas called North Merida or Cholul… and look in the higher price brackets.

    All the owners of the above agencies, and many of the agents, speak English. #1, 2 and 5 are owned by people who either grew up or lived their lives in the United States. There are many more as well. Just search on Google for “real estate merida yucatan”.

  59. Celia,

    Something about your comment gives me the feeling that perhaps you have not visited Merida. I could be completely wrong, of course. However, if you have not, I really encourage a couple trips on vacation to see the area, to encounter the climate, to understand the style of building placement in Merida vs USA (or other area you may be from) and to know more about the opportunities.

    Regarding “bad areas,” I’ve often told people there really aren’t “bad areas” of town. I’ve found very nice people everywhere. Yes, some people are poor, but very often you will find the poor people to be extraordinarily friendly, welcoming and giving, while the very well off may be less inclined. Your mileage may vary.

    But, if you haven’t already, please do take a couple trips to visit the city before house shopping. It’s the most important advice for anyone who is considering the move. Best of Luck!!

  60. I have a question for all that have imported LARGE DOGS into Mexico. Did you fly, what should I expect? I plan to bring 2 Great Danes with me to Cancun.


  61. Cherie,

    We brought our dogs with us to Merida. One is a yellow Lab and the other is an English Mastiff (she now weighs 191 pounds…). You will find it difficult if not impossible to fly your dogs as the airlines have quite strict guidelines about this. One is the size of the crate and our crate for the Mastiff was too large. The other is that giant breed dogs are on a no fly list into Mexico due to heat concerns. I even tried FedEx, no go.

    We drove all the way from Vancouver, BC. Make sure you have an up-to-date health certificates and shots and have certified copies in Spanish too. The certificates need to be issued within 14 days or less of your crossing the border into Mexico.

    Good Luck.

  62. i like dogs. i want to come lifetime in mexico for dogs in AFAD. my age is 19 . i really want to come in mexico. i really want to do somthing for dogs . i have an idea about dogs . if we use this idea we can make our AFAD branches all over the world. i am from india . in india people take only top breeds . no one take street dogs . my pocket money amount is 50rs per week . but i use 40rs per week for food of street dogs. so please read this message . i want to come mexico . so anyone intrested in my idea about dogs please call me. MY CELL NO IS 9545872457 or 9975071845. (india) i dont have any dog becuz my home is small.

  63. Jeff Young with Planned Pethood Plus suggested I contact you. I am a vet who had a lot of trouble with vet schools do to political reasons and wish to work somewhere that really needs the help. I am used to working in countries other than the US, as I went to school in the Caribbean and was one of the few successful students to have a predominantly Catholic society(I’m Christian and my step father’s Catholic so I am aware of the bias towards not spaying and not aborting puppies) spay and neuter their animals voluntarily. I also used to work film production so publicity is my specialty. I would like to come and work even if it’s for a little while with you, would you mind contacting me? I don’t often check email but my cell is 720-878-5788

  64. Jamie,
    We suggest you contact Debbie Moore at YAPA. She also has a public relations background and I’m sure she would appreciate the help. You can email her at debobway [at] gmail [dot] com.

  65. Recently, while traveling in Mexico, I met 2 feral kittens living on a resort. Both were skinny but being fed by local tourists. I would be interested in learning how to bring these cats to the US, if possiable, and was hoping you would know where to start? You are the ONLY forum I can find about ANY animals in Mexico. You are doing great work!

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  66. I will be living at my house in Sisal, I am a retired veterinarian. Could you use my help? I still have an active license and dea form in California.

  67. I did not read one word regarding the State responsibility on this matter. Overpopulation could have been avoided if instead of focusing on sterilizing females only, a failed government program that started over 35 years ago, they would have focused on the males as well. On the other hand, its mortifying to read that a difference is made regarding the care provided between the poor and the people with means. I run an animal welfare in Campeche which has a long way to go for ending overpopulation and abandonment, and in our 7 year experience we can assure you that poor are no different to people with means regarding their pets. The difference is the high cost of veterinarian care which in Mexico is private, a bussiness. In México we have Federal, Sate and Municipal laws that have been designed to protect and control pets, but the majority does not know of their existence, therefore nobody demands their immediate application leaving the problem to the people. If Mexico’s half of its population lives in total poverty its the State the one to blame. If you can not afford to provide your own child with his primal necessities, it is clear that the families pet will be left behind. It is the State, with the collaboration of the society that must provide AFFORDABLE, REACHABLE and CONSTANT spay & neuter campaigns, as well as veterinarian care in general, amongst other reasons, because of disease transmitted primarily to children and elders.

  68. This article is most informative. My partner and I are considering taking a full time vacation w/our 3 dogs and 2 cats in our large motor home in about 1.5 years…somewhere in the Yucatan is our goal but it will be narrowed down over time. We both qualify to administer veterinary assistant services and may be able to lend some Gringo help in this area. Thanks again for this article. I’m still looking for information on living in a motor home in the Yukatan and if anyone has info it would be super! Just e-mail me.
    Thank you, D. DeLanoy

  69. I live in Merida and I just took a beautiful dog that was living on the streets. This dog suffers from distemper but is making great progress! My problem is that I have my own dog and since I have to be careful that they are separated and be very cautious when touching her so that my dog doesn’t get infected, I haven’t been able to give the dog all the attention that I would want like playing with her, petting her, etc. I want to check if there might be somebody that doesn’t already have a dog and can take better care of her than me. I am willing to pay for her food. She is just a wonderful dog, very friendly, one of the best dogs I have ever meet. Feel free to contact me if you think you can help anarh13 [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] mx

  70. Please put your dog rescue group in FACEBOOK AND TWITTER so I can add them as a friend.

  71. Letty, you can find them on Facebook here:

  72. Is this place still in progresso somewhere? If it is still in Progreso is there a phone number, web site or email available? Thank you for your help.

    Protective Animal Welfare organization
    For information call: Dra. Beatrice Carajal Garcia
    Calle 29 # 98B between 66 & 68
    Tel:935 07 75

  73. Yes this place is still going strong. They have TWO events coming soon. The clinic is FINISHED and will open on March 16. Due to all their hard work, a state-of-the-art vet hospital will be given to the people of the Municipality of Progreso DEBT FREE and with all of its permissions and licenses and whatever else Mexico requires ALL in order. It is a great place and we welcome and encourage you all to support it. The phone number is in the information you put in your comment: +52-999-935-0775

  74. What is the current contact info for this affiliation? Im needing to get in contact with them asap! Thanks.

  75. How can I bring to donate 50 lb. bags of dog food and cat food for the shelters to Mexico from Arizona?

  76. Yes, I dont think there are any rules against bringing dog food into Mexico.

  77. I would love to work at this shelter. I’m from LA & I speak English & fluent Spanish as well. I’m thinking of going to Mexico & staying there. The aunt of my bf has a husband who is from Merida Yucatan & maybe we’re moving there. I want to figure something so i can be able to help. I’m a strong animal advocate.

  78. I was in punta laguna on nov 11, 2014 and there was a medium size dog in the parking lot where u enter to visit the lake and hiking trails where the monkies live. The dog was very bad condition – very thin, bad skin etc. I would have brought him to your shelter if i had known about it before. Any chance that someone could go out and help that poor animal? i am only visiting and no longer have my rental car, but am willing funds to help rescue this and other suffering animals.

  79. Need your advice. I am in Playa del Carmen with my mini poodle rescue Jimmy and want to visit Merida with him for a few days sometime after Dec. 19. How can I transport us both without putting him under a bus?

  80. If he is that mini, you might be able to carry him on in a carrier. Otherwise, you’ll have to rent a car or get a ride from someone. There is no other way that I know of… anyone else have ideas?

  81. I am from Ontario, Canada and on visiting the Mayan Ruins was heartbroken at the state these poor dogs were in. I would like Ontario, Canada to be more aware as we are animal lovers. Can we help in any way?

  82. Jenny, you can donate your time or money to either AFAD or Evolución, both linked at the bottom left of each page here, under Compañeros. These are both worthy animal shelters, privately run, that always need donations and take care of a LOT of dogs, and some cats too.

  83. We have tried several times to contact AFAD by phone and e-mail. There is no answers to either. We viewed a beautiful Husky type dog on the website. We have a huge home in Yucatan. Making the trip to Merida is a few hours and we would love to find out if this Husky type dog as shown on the website is still there. We will make a large donation to the shelter.
    Please advise if you can find out any information. 984 186 2278

  84. Stephen, I will send your comment (and translate it) to Lidia in her email and on her Facebook page. Hopefully you will get some response. I know she has been very busy with an attack on the shelter from a neighbor (long story…).


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