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Dec 10, 2009

A young girl waits for the clinic team to treat her mangy dog 5-Dec-09

Andrea is a vet student who is often found volunteering her time with Dr. Miguel in Panajachel.  She has also been working with the nonprofit group World Vision in their location at the Lake Atitlan village of San Juan.

This past week Ayuda sponsored a special clinic which Andrea organized in the lakeside village of San Marcos.

Setting up for surgeries 5-Dec-09

The clinic was supported by the professional services of Dr. Miguel, as well as donated services by Ayuda Board Member Dr. Dennys and veterinarian intern student Astrid.

Several other vet students and family members provided additional volunteer support.    And hands on help was also provided by volunteers Steve and Selaine from Ayuda, who brought with them some very needed medical donations, including the vaccines to prevent parvo, distemper, and other local deadly diseases.

By the end of the day, 17 animals had been sterilized and 25 had been vaccinated.

Family owned dog in very bad condition 5-Dec-09

Although the turnout of animals was lower than hoped for, a number of lessons were learned from the experience of this village.

As with so many other poor villages in our region, San Marcos is yet another which has impoverished people who can barely feed themselves, yet still care about the well being of their animals.  Several very unhealthy family owned dogs were treated during the course of the clinic.  In addition to leaving with their pets sterilized and vaccinated, several families were given needed medications and special instructions to better care for their very sick animals.

Operating expenses for the San Marcos clinic were provided through the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.  Building facilities were provided by the local health department.

Man waiting for the team to treat his faithful companion Salchicha (Sausage) 5-Dec-09

Nov 12, 2009

Mangey little Bandit 10-Nov-09

Bandit wandered into the bus stop bookstore coffee shop this week.  The regular customers quickly realized that this puppy was all alone and looking for sanctuary so they called Ayuda.

With a mangey face, and perhaps his very first day away from his mother, Bandit was carried through the closest neighborhoods where residents were asked if they knew this puppy.  Although he had been seen by the neighbors, no one knew where this little chow had originated.  The popular suspicion is that he was probably dropped off from a passing bus.

The neighbors were made aware that Ayuda was taking him to Zoo Mascota for treatments, and that he would then go to a temporary foster home while he recovers.

Bandit is about 9 or 10 weeks old and we think we may have already found a nice family of humans for him.  But first he will complete his mange treatments, become sterilized, and receive our standard series of vaccinations.

Despite our daily efforts to control the dog population, we still have a continuous supply of puppy adoption opportunities.  Please Contact Us if you are interested in helping to find homes for homeless animals.  Our supplies of basic medications for Bandit and others like him continue to become painfully reduced.   In order to rebuild our inventory of supplies we desperately require cash and/or in-kind donations.  We ask for support from local residents,  visitors, and people like you who care about the plight of helpless animals.

Oct 31, 2009

Family Success Story

cumatz exploring

Cumatz checking out her new digs

We recently received some photos from our friend Mer.  The pictures are of Cumatz, a former street dog, who is now doing very well living on Mer’s property.

When Ayuda first discovered this dog we called her Lucia.  She was found nursing a litter of new puppies beneath the hull of an old boat.

But we soon came to learn that mama dog had a friendly sponsor.   As a lake commuter, Mer had come to know this dog very well, named her Cumatz,  and was planning on adopting Cumatz to her home in a western shore village.  In fact, Mer had already brought this homeless dog to Dr. Miguel to begin her vaccination series, and then returned Cumatz to her home base as a temporary measure.

cumatz guardian

Cumatz the guardian

With birds-of-a-feather common interests, Mer and Ayuda teamed up to care for this beautiful new family.

Temporary shelter was created near the family’s home base.   At the right time, Cumatz was moved to her new home in a village which is only accessible by boat.  Volunteer Marilena fostered (and sang to) the puppies in her home.  All family members were sterilized and fully vaccinated.  And last but not least, all of the puppies went to the homes of families which Ayuda interviewed.

Overall, a story book ending for a beautiful family of homeless dogs.

cumatz at ease

Cumatz enjoying the good life

Oct 26, 2009

Numerous times over the course of a year the streets of Panajachel become plagued by large packs of roaming dogs.    Somewhere at the front of the steadily moving pack there is almost always a female in heat.   She may be trying to break away from the pursuing males, or she may be inviting them to have sex with her.

During these times it is very common to encounter a pack with as many as 15 or more dogs who have thrown caution to the wind.  Vicious fighting among the males is also common as they move carelessly through the streets, contending to be the next in line, and often intimidating humans they encounter along their way.

When conditions have permitted, Ayuda volunteers have managed to grab a female and make an escape in a fast moving vehicle.  However, many times conditions are not safe to do this.  Even if a female is willing to be removed from a gang bang, it is not uncommon for the sex-crazed males to restrict her exit.

When unable to perform a capture safely, our standard practice has been to get as much information as possible about the female (ideally, a photo), and then try to track her down for her spay/neuter at a safer time.  Unfortunately, many of these females go under cover and are not seen again until they are weeks into pregnancy.   And as a further obstacle, sometimes a pack dog has a human family who, for various reasons, does not believe in having their animals sterilized and may even want their females in a constant state of pregnancy.


Yesterday, Selaine was walking up a busy side street when she was approached by an unusually large pack of dogs.  The street was busy with honking buses and trucks during rush hour traffic.   Annoyed business owners and frightened pedestrians tried to shoo away the dogs by throwing water and other things at them.  But the crazed dogs refused to cooperate.

Running directly towards Selaine in front of the pack was a little female whom we have named Feathers.

Feathers is not an unfamiliar face to Ayuda.  We have seen her many times around town, but never before in heat and being pursued.   When observed, Feathers consistently appears to be on the move and as if she has a purposed destination to get to.   Judging from her breed and general condition, we have always assumed that Feathers most likely has a human family.

As Selaine continued up the street she quickly came to realize that Feathers was in a state of terror.  In desperation, the frightened dog went under a parked car seeking sanctuary, but still crying out for help, while a male dog also crawled under the car in hot pursuit.

Pushing the stubborn male suitors aside, Selaine tried unsuccessfully to reach far enough under the sheltering car and grab hold of Feathers.  At this same time, one of the Ayuda volunteers who watch over the church courtyard dogs arrived on the scene.  Rudy was able to crawl under the parked car and pull Feathers out to safety.   As he handed the little dog over to Selaine, Feathers wrapped her paws around Selaine’s neck and clung to her for dear life.

Selaine then carried Feathers through the neighborhood, pushing away the anxious males at her feet, and asking business owners and residents if they knew if Feathers had a family.  As she received steady replies of “no” she briefly explained that she runs a program for street dogs and that Feathers was going to Zoo Mascota to be sterilized.    To which all gave her replies of support, ranging from “Good!” to blessings and pats on her back.

However, the journey to safety was not yet complete.

With Feathers still clinging to her and surrounded by the males, Selaine jumped into a tuk tuk taxi.  But one persistent big boy would not give up.  He too climbed into the tuk tuk trying to introduce himself to Feathers.  Using her feet, Selaine was able to push him out.  But then he chased them the entire way to the clinic, continuously jumping in and getting kicked out each time the tuk tuk had to stop.

Finally, Feathers and Selaine made it inside Zoo Mascota, but so did the pursuing male.  He followed them in the front door.  As soon as Feathers was secure, efforts were made to capture the male and sterilize him too.  But he slipped away.  This time.

By the end of the day, Feathers and another female who was captured from a different pack that same morning had both been successfully treated.

Xela, another healthy street dog  19-Oct-09

Xela! A happy, healthy, and appreciative street dog 19-Oct-09

Photos of Feathers have been omitted from this publication.

However, above is an “after” picture of another female who was also saved from a pack of males a couple of months ago.

Since her operation, Xela has put on a good deal of weight.   With her keen sense of street smarts, we are very happy to say that Xela is doing very well in all ways.

Always a pleasure when we see each other, we have come to discover that Xela loves to show appreciation for the help she has received, including a daily meal of healthy food.  We often encounter Xela if we are out in the evenings and she very dutifully accompanies us safely to our gate.  Click here if you would like to read the original article about Xela.

Oct 5, 2009

A Close Call for Bobi

Bobi survived Parvo  5-Oct-09

Bobi survived Parvo 5-Oct-09

It was only a few days ago that we thought 2 month old Bobi wasn’t going to make it.

Bobi was found in an indigenous neighborhood.  He had all appearances of dieing.

We took Bobi to Zoo Mascota where he was diagnosed with Parvo.  Dr. Miguel admitted him and after a few days of hospitalization and treatments Bobi  showed remarkable progress.

Bobi is also one lucky dog because he has someone waiting to take him home with her, and also because his hospitalization expenses have been sponsored by a kind local person.

Cases of death and near-death due to Parvo and Distemper continue to occur in our area.  As the animals die a slow and agonizing death they leave behind diarrhea and other unhealthy bodily fluids.  We have unconfirmed suspicions that there may be linkages between the spread of these diseases in the neighborhoods and rumblings from neighborhood leaders about wanting to poison.

We are working hard to find acceptable anti-poison solutions for the neighborhoods.  Our plans include a series of regularly scheduled walk-around visits to the neighborhoods during which we offer vaccinations and other treatments.  Our goal is to stabilize the deadly current circumstances, and work towards sustainable levels of Parvo/Distemper vaccinations administered throughout the communities.

Please help us to fight these killing diseases and prevent future epidemics.   We are seeking donations to help us purchase these life saving vaccines.

Sep 30, 2009

As this month of September winds down we celebrate a milestone of accomplishment.

We are declaring the Las Cavernas area to be in a state of stabilization.

Tux at 7 weeks  28-Sep-09

Tux at 7 weeks 28-Sep-09

All females in the area have either been sterilized or are secure and scheduled for very close dates.

All homeless males in the area have been sterilized, and others have been adopted and are scheduled for very close dates.

All dogs of both sexes in the area have been vaccinated for Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, and other local deadly diseases.

Toffee at 7 weeks  28-Sep-09

Toffee at 7 weeks 28-Sep-09


And all homeless puppies have been adopted, except for Tux and Toffee.   All ready for a healthy life with human companions, we hope to find homes for these adorable little boys very soon.  Until then, they are waiting in a volunteer’s foster home.

Las Cavernas will continue to be a daily Ayuda feeding station, including support from the local merchants and workers.  New arrivals to the area will be surveyed and planned for necessary treatments according to their needs and conditions.

Sep 14, 2009

Today we received excellent news from France.


Brigitte Bardot Portrait

Brigitte Bardot

The Brigitte Bardot Foundation has generously awarded Ayuda a grant of 8,000 Euros.

Through this award, five hundred animals will be sterilized over the next twelve months.

In addition to the grant itself, the Foundation is championing Ayuda relationships with other international animal welfare groups, which we hope will lead to exciting future projects.

With deepest gratitude and humble pride, we gratefully accept the generosity and faith bestowed in us by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, their donors, and the honorable Brigitte Bardot for her life commitment to animals everywhere.  We will not let you down.

Sep 13, 2009
Cumatz and her pups  10-Sep-09

Cumatz and her pups 10-Sep-09

Enrique and Manuel preparing the roof  13-Sep-09

Enrique and Manuel preparing the roof 12-Sep-09

We just love to report news about local heroes.

As Guatemalan Independence Day draws near, there has been a sharp increase in the launching of recreational boats.

The other day our friend Mer checked in on some of the Las Cavernas puppies and the boat yard workers expressed concern about the safety of the pups with all the holiday traffic.

In response, Mer gave them some money and asked if they would go buy materials and construct something temporary but secure.

Out of Harms Way  13-Sep-09

Out of Harms Way 12-Sep-09

Young men Enrique and Manuel quickly went to work.  The new public dog house will have a dry roof and a soft floor.  Mama will be able to come and go but the pups will be confined until they’re more grown and the immediate hazzards have passed.

We proudly salute Mer, Enrique, Manuel, and Gerardo for their care and help to homeless animals in their communities.

Sep 10, 2009

Despite best efforts since the formalizing of Ayuda (Jun09), during this year an increasing number of cases of Parvo and Distemper have taken street animals and family pets alike.

On the good faith that supporting donations will come, Ayuda is taking new steps to combat these deadly diseases through a planned series of vaccination-only clinics.

As part of its standard treatments, all animals which Ayuda has sterilized on a day-by-day basis are consistently vaccinated against Parvo, Distemper, Leptospirosis, and other fatal diseases.  However, until now,  we have focused our work primarily on homeless and roaming animals, as opposed to family pets.  But in the best interest of animal welfare and public health throughout the community, the scope of our work will be widened to address and prevent this quickly forthcoming crisis situation.

The planned vaccination-only clinics will favor the homeless in terms of using our available resources.  However, the clinics will also welcome impoverished family pets, which may already be spayed/neutered, but were never vaccinated for Parvo, Distemper, etc..

At this publication, 66 street animals have received the full set of Ayuda treatments this year, and another 12 have been fully vaccinated and are awaiting sterilization.  Our expectation is that a total of no less than 200 street animals will have been sterilized by the end of 2009, and that no less than 250 street and family animals will have at least been fully vaccinated within the same period.

Rabies vaccines are provided free of charge to anyone by the local Public Health Department.  But vaccines to combat the other killer diseases must be purchased.  We are actively seeking donations of $10usd increments.  Each $10 donation will enable us to vaccinate one more animal against the diseases listed on this page.

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Posted: Sep 10, 2009 7:13pm


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Selaine D'ambrosi
, 2, 2 children
Panajachel, Guatemala
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