When hurricane Delta closed in on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Ricardo Pimentel opened his home to about 300 dogs, while dozens of cats harbored in his son’s room; his daughter’s room served as a refuge for chicks, bunnies and even a hedgehog; a patio became a haven for a flock of sheep.
“It was worth it, all survived the storm,” Ricardo Pimentel said.
“It doesn’t matter if the house is dirty, it can be cleaned,” he says.
“The things they broke can be fixed or bought again, but what’s beautiful is to see them happy, healthy and safe, without wounds and with the possibility of being adopted.”
To keep the animals safe from the impending storm, he moved them inside. It took hours to lead the hundreds of canines indoors by leash.
The hurricane downed trees, knocked out power and prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents and tourists along the Yucatan Peninsula’s resort-studded coast.
Afterward, he was surprised by the generosity of people from around the world who donated thousands of dollars. It was, he said, perhaps the biggest fundraising moment since he founded Tierra de Animales. And local residents stepped forward to help clean up the damage at the shelter.
Pimentel has always preferred the company of animals. He dropped out of college and spent years fixing motorcycles and adopting stray dogs before fulfilling his childhood dream by starting the shelter in 2011. Today, some 500 animals live on nearly 10 acres of land.
Some Tierra de Animales dogs were rescued from dogfighting rings, or were left unable to stand after being brutally beaten. Over the years, many have been adopted by families in Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
Pimentel gets help from workers, volunteers and family, including 20-year-old daughter Luna, who is studying to become a veterinarian.