Posted by: heatherinparadise | February 6, 2012

Saving Scottie From Death Row

Long time readers of HiP will know that I’ve been involved with a number of Playa del Carmen-area charitable projects since I moved here almost 8 years ago.  Primary among these have to do with the various animal organizations–I’m a soft touch when it comes to defenseless creatures.

After the hectic pace of the Holidays, combined with the extra work of high tourist season, I decided after I was finished with the ChristmasDreams Project and after the Vidas/Candi spay/neuter clinic in January that I was going to take a break from volunteering for a while, to focus on myself and my own work and personal projects.

And then I saw this picture.

Tiny little puppy, all alone in Playa del Carmen's horrible Perrera

Sylvie, the founder of local animal organization SOS El Arca visits Playa del Carmen’s perrera, or dog pound, almost every day to bring food for the dogs and to take photos in the hopes of finding homes for the animals there.  She’s unable to take on any more animals at her refuge, but she’s still dedicated to helping these dogs when she can.  The perrera in Playa del Carmen is a depressing place–animals are scooped up off the streets, put into small cells and then their time left is limited.  If they are very sick, they are euthanized immediately.  If they’re obviously someone’s pet who just got lost/loose, the owner has a short time to find their dog and pay the ‘ransom’ to get their dog out.  If no one comes for the dog, within a few days, the dogs are euthanized to make room for the next batch of dogs that come in daily.

I see Sylvie’s photos from the perrera every day, but as there is no way to rescue all animals, most of the time I have to painfully look away/put the dogs out of my mind.  But there was something about this photo that moved me–I think it’s that the puppy is backed all the way into the corner, scared and small, with only the two walls to touch her.  I knew I had to foster this puppy until I could find a home for her, so my friend Laura and I decided to try to save her.

First we had to determine if the puppy had been euthanized or not–she was supposed to have been put down on the day her photo was posted.  There was an error in communication and we missed the 4 pm deadline to speak to the vet at the perrera–we waited on pins and needles to see if the puppy was still alive.  When we found out that the vet had had car trouble and didn’t go back to the pound to do the daily euthanizations, we were overjoyed, and called him right away to let him know we’d be by first thing in the morning to collect the puppy.

Thankfully, we were able to show a photo of the puppy to the perrera workers and they went in to get her and bring her to us–I could not have been able to stand seeing all those poor animals on Death Row, their sad eyes begging me to save them.

I was so happy to see her little face

Dr. Carlos, the new vet in charge at the perrera, seems like a kind and compassionate man.  In the past, perrera directors have been difficult to work with and antagonistic towards the various animal charities trying to help, but Dr. Carlos works with SOS El Arca and Tierra de Animales to save as many as he can.  He also gives the dogs food and water, something that wasn’t possible before.  We brought a 25kilo bag of dog food in exchange for the puppy.  He explained that when there aren’t too many dogs and there is space at the pound, he does his best to let the animals live as long as he can, up to 14 or 15 days, in the hopes they will be able to find homes/be saved.

Dr. Carlos, doing the best he can for the stray dogs at the perrera

She was so terrified. Her scrawny little body just trembled.

We drove straight from the perrera to the vets at Coco’s Cat Rescue.  They did tests on her for Parvo and Distemper–thankfully both negative.  They gave her a can of food (cat food, which was all they had, but she didn’t care!) and she ate it like she’d never eaten before.

Yes, I'm a dog, but I like cat food. Wanna make something of it?

All ribs, hipbones, and knobby spine

Coco’s lent me a crate and I brought her home to my 2 room apartment. She has to be kept apart from Vinnie, my dog, for at least a week, to avoid Vinnie getting parasites from her.  Keeping the tradition of naming animals after friends (and my penchant for giving ‘boy’ names to girls), I named the pup “Scottie” after a couple of my closest friends.

Scottie is around two months old, with long gangly legs and expressive, Bambi-like eyes.  She looks like a baby deer when she stands up.  She’s still timid and shy after the hell of what she’s gone through in her short life, but it was only a few hours with me before she would wag her tail when I came into the room to check on her.  She’s already doing her business on paper that I lay down for her, and when she eats, she is so joyful to come by such easily-gotten food that her tail wags the entire time until her bowl is clean.

From concrete Death Row to a King Sized bed--alllllright.

While I thought hard about keeping her, my current living situation is not conducive to having even one dog, nevermind two.  Financially, I struggle even with the burden of keeping my own dog happy and healthy, so despite my love for Scottie, it is in her best interests for me to find another home for her.  Furthermore, if I love this one, get her healthy, and then let her go, perhaps I will be able to continue to foster animals and save more and more, one pup at a time.  Several of my amazing and wonderful friends, unasked, simply sent money to help care for Scottie–my faith in humans is constantly renewed by the lovely people I am lucky enough to have in my life.

If you would like to adopt Scottie, or know someone who would like to adopt her, please let me know.  Adoptions to the US and Canada are easy and possible, and she will come to you fully immunized, healthy, and will be spayed.  This little girl is so grateful for every ounce of love and affection she’s getting and I know she will make someone a fine companion.

Making herself at home on my bed and in my heart

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  1. Do you know her approx. age and breed? I might know someone here in Canada…

    • She’s about 2 months old–and is a mixed breed. She definitely looks like she’s got some German Shepherd in her, probably along with labrador and a million other things. :) My Mexican street dog is the best!

      • I may have a friend that knows someone here in Grande Prairie AB, Canada. I am flying to Puerto Morelos this thursday and leaving for canada on the 18th. Is this too soon to bring a dog back with me? What do I need to here to make sure she gets into Canada?

    • That might be too soon, Val–she has to get all her shots and get spayed, but even so, it is not too hard for me to find pet escorts if someone there is interested. Do me a favor, shoot me an email with your dates to and I’ll get back to you with what the vet says. We would handle the required paperwork–you just check with your airline to see the requirements. She is currently still small enough to fly in cabin.

  2. By the way, she looks much bigger in photos–she is very small and light–weighs about 2.3 kilos, or 5 lbs. I’m working on fattening her up!

  3. I’m in tears and hugging my own little rescue so tight right now. I’m glad you are in this world Heather.

  4. I nearly bawled my head off reading this! Thank you for saving her.. I saw her picture on SOS El Arca facebook page the first day it was posted and it broke my heart – am so glad you saved her! I live up in Calgary so if there is something I can help with on this end – let me know! I have also shared on my facebook page so hopefully she can eventually get fostered / adopted in Canada. Thank you so much for saving her. I am in Playa in March and again in April, and will be sure to also donate some food to the perrera.

  5. Hi Heather,
    We have been looking for a puppy (sort of!) and John said if one fell in our lap then we could get one! Problem is how much would it cost to get her to Colorado, and how much is it to adopt her? And is she still available?
    Thank you,
    Suzy (jflattracker on playa info)

    • Hi. How would I go about finding our how much for her to fly here? And we live not too far from Denver. March would be an awesome time for her to come here! :)

  6. Bless you & little Scottie!!!

    FYI, if anyone in Chicago or the Chicago area (Wisc. Indiana, etc..) is interested in adopting….I can chaperone her to Chicago & deliver her to her new home. I depart Playa on March 21st.

    Hugs to you & your foster baby girl!….OH & sweet Vinnie too!!!

  7. YOU are my hero. I rescued a 6 year old golden retriever (120 lb pony) a few years ago. Someone had dumped him off at a shelter and he was at a foster home heading to the golden retriever rescue in Salt Lake City when I got the call from girlfriends alerting me. I had just lost both my goldens the past year. I went and met him and he is amazing. I adopted him on the spot. He’s huge but amazing. My best friend. As for your writing about love lost… yup just went through a nasty two year divorce from a man I’ve been with for 16 years. Honest? Dating scares the hell out of me!!! There is not enough dim lighting in the entire state of Idaho for this 50 year old woman to take her top off. And I’m not fat! Smiling? Thank you for your wonderful blog entries. – Trina in Idaho

  8. What’s going on with Scottie now?

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