By Debbie LaChance
When we think of life in Mexico, our minds often conjure idyllic images of beautiful beaches, glistening blue waters, and endless sunny skies. While this is undoubtedly true, there’s another, less idyllic aspect to Mexico: it is home to the largest population of stray dogs in Latin America, with an estimated 15 to 18 million dogs living without, or abandoned by, human owners. These animals are a tragic sight, with the majority in extremely poor condition. But amidst this challenging reality, one woman in Puerto Angel, a village just 30 kilometres from Huatulco, has made it her life’s mission to alleviate their suffering.
Claudia Mamet, who works full-time as an English professor at a university in Puerto Angel, has always had a strong relationship with animals. During the COVID-19 pandemic when she needed to work from home, she decided to invest any extra free time she had in helping the street animals in her community. Her journey began with her first Mexican rescue during the pandemic, whom she named Bowie. Bowie’s story would ultimately serve as the inspiration for her to establish her non-profit organization, Dogs of Puerto Angel.
Bowie, like countless others, was born into life on the streets with his siblings and mother. Claudia had them all sterilized and treated for ticks and fleas. She fed them daily, but her living situation prevented her from giving them a home. Bowie vanished one day, only for Claudia to learn that a local farmer had taken him in as a guard dog. After two months, while Claudia was out feeding the street dogs, she stumbled upon Bowie, curled up on the side of the road. The farmer had subjected him to starvation and abuse, ultimately discarding him when he was no longer useful.
Claudia decided to move to a pet-friendly home so she could nurse Bowie back to health. Over the course of two months, he made a remarkable recovery, regaining his cheerful and playful demeanor. However, Bowie had the habit of chasing motorcycles and chickens, which in Mexico is a death sentence for a dog. Recognizing this, Claudia resolved to find Bowie a loving home abroad. With the help of a dear friend, she successfully found a forever home for him with a family in the Netherlands, where he is now thriving. Since then, Claudia’s home has become a sanctuary for sick or dying dogs and cats that need a safe place to recover.
The core mission of Dogs of Puerto Angel is to alleviate the suffering of street dogs and cats through a multi-faceted approach. This includes mass sterilization campaigns, educational initiatives within local schools, and the introduction of new local laws that combat animal abuse and neglect.
Claudia fundraises for these sterilization campaigns, partnering with veterinarians who charge her $300 pesos per animal (about $16.40 USD, $22.50 CAD at current exchange rates). Her objective is always ambitious, aiming to sterilize up to 200 dogs and cats over a single weekend—an astounding achievement.
As a teacher, Claudia believes in the power of education to promote responsible pet ownership and create a more compassionate and conscientious society. She takes every opportunity to visit local schools and conduct workshops that raise children’s awareness about the importance of caring for animals.
Claudia’s advocacy extends to pushing for new local laws that protect animals from abuse. On September 8, 2023, her tireless efforts paid off when the municipality of San Pedro Pochutla accepted her proposals and passed the first-ever local regulation on the Oaxaca coast dedicated to the protection, care, and management of companion animals in the region.
Claudia has dedicated her life to making a difference in the lives of Mexico’s animals. Even though it takes an emotional toll on her to see so much suffering, she perseveres because of the animals she can save. The ones like Bowie.
Dogs of Puerto Angel operates solely on donations, with 100% of donations going directly toward helping the dogs and cats in the region. Please consider donating to this inspiring organization and help spread the word about their invaluable work, which is making a positive impact on the lives of animals here. Dogs of Puerto Angel is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States, so Americans who donate can take a tax deduction.