By Diana Stevens from the April 2010 Edition

This is the third of a series of articles on how you can help the coexistence of humans and animals in our adopted city. Read about each group, investigate what catches your fancy and decide where you fit in.

This original animal group in Manzanillo is a unique undertaking. It is a Shelter for very sick, hungry and unhappy street animals and is the creation of a dedicated woman, Silvia Beas, with the unstinting support of her family. Twenty years ago the Beas’ bought a plot of land in the country to take in stray dogs, cats and birds which later on was expanded but is now surrounded by houses. Silvia places cats with a friend, an American lady looks after birds and currently four dogs are farmed out to allow room for new arrivals.

Upon arrival, I was given a fabulous welcome by a motley collection of at least six assorted dogs overjoyed to see yet another kind person. Any horrors from their past have been erased by the constant love and attention they now receive. Going into the comfortable shade of the patio we talked of her undertaking while two dogs lay at our feet and several more around about, some on chairs. Currently there are sixteen residents. It was a peaceful, happy afternoon siesta for them and a very congenial time for us.

Silvia talks excellent, non-stop English and is a trained pharmacist. Well known in the surrounding Mexican community people bring patients to her, many of which are sick or injured or occasionally have horrible skin infections. Usually they start off in her hospital shed where they are given needed care several times a day with much love, plus given a name which speeds the healing process. No dogs are ever put to sleep. They are given the best of nursing care and their lives allowed to run their natural course. All new arrivals are given blood tests and shots and when necessary surgery including sterilisation which is performed by a local vet who donates his services. UAM ran a Vaccination Clinic at the Shelter in Salagua this March with rabies and annual shots free. Silvia and her family pay for all medication, tests, X-rays and food for up to twenty dogs themselves. Patients eventually move to the front of the garden where, through a fence, they can make the acquaintance of other residents very gently.

Many dogs stay at the shelter for up to a year whilst recovering from the original bags of skin and bones they were finally emerging as sleek and beautiful animals ready to make someone a perfect pet. Many evenings Silvia scours the neighbourhood for reliable people prepared to adopt. Her reputation going before her, people know where to come and what they are taking on. She keeps a watchful eye on local families who may lose interest in a now grown pup or decide to extend their house and tie the pet to a tree on the street.

She welcomes volunteers to help with anti-tic bathing, brushing, massage, love and sometimes a walk on the beach! Recently Silvia was badly injured in a car accident and cannot carry on with the practical work as usual so is very grateful for any assistance you may give. Picking up after the dogs is always done by Sylvia’s student son, who also cleans house and does washing as well as allowing his bedroom to be used as a maternity ward for mothers with young puppies!

If you would like to donate something, soap, shampoo, towels and old sheets are always needed. As a pharmacist Silvia adjusts human medicines to canine doses so anything slightly out of date is useful for their ailments. Special needs are ‘Frontline’ or ‘Advantage’ against tics, as well as ‘Dioxiciclina’, antibiotics for eyes and ears, ‘Endogard’ or ‘Cardomec’ against parasites, and ‘Bovitraz’ which works wonders on skin infections.

Food is always needed. A kind volunteer has organised a pick-up for meat leftovers from the Pergola Restaurant twice a week, but there are plenty of other days and plenty of mouths to feed. For this, please contact Sharon at chandlerlapunta@hotmail.com who co-ordinates what can be used when. Silvia is a vegetarian and eats organic vegetables collected periodically from a supplier in Colima. Chiles and a selection of herb teas are grown on the property which is green and lush with many fruit trees. Bananas, limes of several kinds, papayas, grapefruit, and mandarins provide both her human and canine families with valuable vitamins. There are even small plums and mangos which the dogs both play with and eat! The family seem to consume only what is left over from the dogs.

UAM or Refugio de Mascotas (Pet Rescue No-Kill Animal Shelter) has been on a sound legal basis since its initiation and receives little financial help from elsewhere. No active fundraising is done but donations help the work continue. The family live very simply in a small house which they share with their very extended canine family whom Silvia refers to as her “babies”.


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