|LAS ISLAS MARIETAS photo credit: Joyce Hartvigson|
Speeding west from Boca de Tomatlán for 45-minutes in the panga, we were very close to the ghost-like apparition of the Marieta Islands. An hour from Puerto Vallarta, and 15-minutes from Punta de Mita, this small group of uninhabited islands was formed thousands of years ago by volcanic activity. The mysterious looking rock formations and craters on the islands were created in the early 1900´s, when the Mexican military used the area to test bombs and explosives. In the late 60´s, famed scientist, Jacques Cousteau, was an early voice leading the international outcry against this practice. Soon afterwards, the Mexican government declared the islands a national park, with no fishing, hunting or human activity allowed. With their 44 different species of plants and wildlife (including blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, coral, tropical fish, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, etc.), the islands have been designated as a UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve.
Because of the damage to the environment due to tourism, the Marietas were closed to the public in 2016. Sunscreen on swimmers and divers was harming marine life, and boat oil from the many tour trips was destroying the coral. Hydrocarbon and solid waste pollution continue to harm the delicate ecosystem of the islands. Scientists estimate that in a few thousand years, the Marietas will no longer exist. For now, they are a strangely beautiful sight in the dazzling Pacific.
Turning south before reaching the islands, we motored back to the coastline, passing the lovely, small beach and tiny village of Pizota. It was almost two hours after having seen a couple of sea turtles, that we chanced upon a small pod of half-a-dozen dolphins swimming in a perfect row towards Yelapa.
(If interested in this type of excursion: Boca Divers via FB or call 228 0713 in Vallarta. A percentage of the outing will go towards the surgery expenses of “Loup,” an AyudaMutt rescue dog).
|DELFIN FRENTE DE LA PLAYA DE YELAPA photo credit: Joyce Hartvigson|
Back in Boca, we enjoyed fresh ceviche on the beach before heading home. It was on this day, Sunday, April 29th, that our weather flipped from balmy spring to the beginning of what feels like hot summer. Air temperature – 90 – Humidity – 70%.
|PESCADO PARA COMER EN BOCA DE TOMATLÁN photo credit: Joyce Harvitson|
LAS CAÑADAS: (“THE RAVINES”): A beautiful, enormous parota tree with spreading green branches stands in the middle of the main dusty road that goes through this very poor countryside neighborhood. Underneath the graceful tree are piles of garbage where dogs forage for something to eat.
|PERRA EN LAS CAÑADAS|
Some of the dogs are bald from severe cases of mange. Some are pregnant or clearly nursing puppies, and most of the male dogs are intact. It´s impossible to tell which dogs are owned and which are homeless. None look cared for. There are dogs and dust in every direction. Clouds of dust swirl up into the air when a vehicle drives down this road named “Fundación.”
|MAMÁ CALLEJERA – LAS CAÑADAS|
A small, emaciated black dog with almost empty teats followed me from the pile of garbage under the parota tree to the mercado on the nearby corner. Dulce, a very pretty teenager working there, told me the dog was homeless and had given birth to puppies a couple of weeks ago. The dog was not a candidate for spaying because the uterus is still fragile until eight weeks after giving birth. I fed the ravenous mama dog four sausages and a small bag of kibble and asked Dulce to give her a bowl of water. The mama dog was accompanied by a slightly larger, black male dog caked in mud.
(Santa) Elena was at the clinic and easily collared it for surgery, which may save the dog´s life. Neutered, he is now safe from contacting TVT (transmissible venereal tumor), and the neighborhood has one less breeding dog. I left enough cash with Dulce for two weeks of food and asked her to please help find where the mama dog and puppies were staying. After contacting Mexpup, Patty Marchak immediately responded, saying she would accept the mama and her puppies and the black male dog companion.
|(SANTA) ELANA CON EL CALLEJERO COMPAÑERO DE LA MAMÁ NEGRA|
Returning the following day, Leslie Caratachea and I trudged up a very steep, dusty hill, so dusty that it felt like a sand dune. Many of the houses we passed looked uninhabitable with their broken down walls and broken windows. But people were living there. Coated in dust by the time we reached the top, we were searching for a white, abandoned house where (Santa) Elena said the black mama dog was staying.
Elena said that the man who had there with twenty-eight dogs had died a few months ago. He had only wanted his female dogs sterilized, but hadn´t wanted the little black dog spayed. Elena managed to take some of his dogs to a PEACEAnimals clinic, but was not able to take all of them. The formerly owned twenty-eight dogs are now friendly, hungry, neighborhood street dogs. The unsterilized ones have been reproducing and will continue to reproduce unless there is an intervention.
As we approached the house Elena had described, a group of young people were closing the high, black metal gate behind them. They said they didn´t know anything about a dog with puppies and drove off. Leslie said they probably thought we were government employees and were going to take the mama dog away because they had neglected her. And they had. The dog was starving and she and her puppies had little chance to survive.
Standing on the dusty hill dotted with rusted and ruined cars, one sees in the distance far below, the shimmering Pacific and the expensive condos and hotels lining Banderas Bay. Without poverty, this high hill could have been a beautiful place with trees and gardens. Somehow, in the midst of tangled, dusty scrub, a small, red flower had bloomed.
On Saturday morning, the last day of the clinic, Dulce told Leslie she had gone to collect the mama and puppies, but they had all been removed from the abandoned house. I have offered Dulce a reward to find them and will pick them up if she is successful. The story of the black dog will hopefully be continued, and with a happy ending.
|LESLIE CARATACHEA – LAS CAÑADAS|
STERILIZATIONS AT LAS CAÑADAS CLINIC April 25-28
|WAITING FOR SURGERY – ESPERANDO CIRUGÍA – LAS CAÑADAS|
Female dogs – 44; Male dogs – 19; Female cats – 29; Male cats – 21
TOTAL: 113 PLUS PREGNANCIES TERMINATED FOR:
2 cats with 3 fetuses each and 1 dog with 9 fetuses =
15 animals not born to suffer
|WAITING FOR SURGERY – ESPERANDO CIRUGÍA – LAS CAÑADAS|
|MAMÁ Y SU HIJA – LAS CAÑADAS|
DONATIONS AT LAS CAÑADAS: 430 PESOS
|DR.POLI Y DR. PACHECO – LAS CAÑADAS|
DONATIONS TO PEACEANIMALS:
Michael Turner – $50 USD (monthly)
Suzanne French-Smith – 5,000 pesos
Lucy´s Cucu Cabana donation box – 2,200 pesos
Anonymous – 1,000 pesos
Sue Hunter – $19 USD (monthly)
Vallarta Adventures – 5,000 pesos worth of vet supplies (monthly donation during high season – November-May)
Caitlin McHugh – $100 USD – in honor her aunt (passionate animal advocate and PEACEAnimals board member)
|CLÍNICA EN MOJONERAS EN EL AYUTAMIENTO|
MOJONERAS – Thirty minutes northeast of centro Vallarta, it is a partially paved, poor neighborhood with a usually empty cement plaza, a bare-bones church with no walls, and a small government (“ayutamiento”) building, where the clinics have always taken place. Frank Ohly was there on Thursday, and told me that 28 cats and only 3 dogs had been brought in on Wednesday.
(Santa) Elena arrived by truck when I was there. She had brought six cats and eight dogs from neighbors who always give her gas money for trips to clinics. Elena had also brought animals to the clinic on Wednesday.
|(SANTA) ELENA CON 6 GATOS & 8 PERROS DE SUS VECINOS – MOJONERAS|
STERILIZATIONS AT CLINIC IN MOJONERAS – MAY 2-5:
Female dogs – 41; Male dogs – 19; Female cats – 40; Male cats – 29 TOTAL: 129
PLUS pregnancies terminated for 1 cat with 6 fetuses; 1 cat with 2 fetuses; 1 dog with 8 fetuses; 1 dog with 4 fetuses TOTAL: 20 animals not born to suffer.
|LA PERRA QUE NO QUERÍA CAMINAR A LA CLÍNICA EN MOJONERAS – A DOG THAT DIDN´T WANT TO WALK TO THE CLINIC|
DONATIONS AT MOJONERAS CLINIC:
EDUCATION PROGRAM: Leslie Caratachea presented to 60 students at the Primaria Octavio Paz school on Tuesday, May 1st.
|LESLIE CARATACHEA EN BUSCA DE LA PERRITA NEGRA Y SUS CACHORRITOS – LAS CAÑADAS|
FOR PHOTOS/NAMES OF RESCUED DOGS THAT NEED HOMES, THE CITY SHELTER (FORMER CENTRO DE ACOPIO) HAS A CURRENT ROSTER THAT INCLUDES PHOTOS, NAMES AND DESCRIPTIONS.
WE NEED DONATIONS OF USED AND NEW KENNELS FOR CATS AND DOGS OF ALL SIZES. WE WOULD ALSO LIKE TO BE ABLE TO GIVE USED OR NEW COLLARS AND LEASHES TO DOG OWNERS WHO BRING THEIR PETS TO THE CLINICS.
PEACEANIMALS VET TEAM – EL EQUIPO DE PEACEANIMALS – DR. ANTHONY, LESLIE, DR. POLI Y DR. PACHECO