With Hurricane Delta approaching Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Ricardo Pimentel turned his home into Noah’s Ark by sheltering around 300 dogs.
It wasn’t just dogs, either. In his sons room were dozens of cats and in his daughters room were chickens, rabbits, and even a hedgehog. As for the patio? That became a haven for a flock of sheep.
As a result of his heroic gesture, his house smelled awful… though saving all those animals was well worth it.
“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.”
The story began with a social media post back on October 6th when Pimentel shared with friends that he had cut branches and boarded up windows at the Tierra de Animales (land of Animals) shelter where he also lives with his family, which he’d founded nearly a decade prior, located 20 miles southwest from Cancun.
With the hurricane approaching, he shared his concerns that stores may remain closed during the storm and asked for donations.
“If I lived with just 10 or 20 dogs, I wouldn’t worry much, but here we have hundreds of animals and we can’t afford the luxury of not having enough food,” he said.
Rather than leave the animals out exposed to the elements, he chose to move them inside. After hours of leashing up and guiding dogs indoors, he shared a photo of all the dogs together in his home which quickly made headlines across the globe.
While his photo was going viral online, Pimentel was so busy dealing with the devastation from the hurricane like downed trees, knocked out power, and mass evacuations of residents and tourists along the Yucatan Peninsula’s coast that he didn’t know all the publicity he was getting.
He was even more surprised with the generosity of people around the world who donated thousands of dollars after seeing his social media post. In addition to the global donations, the local residents joined in the efforts to clean up the damaged animal shelter.
Many of the dogs at Tierra de Animales were rescued from dogfighting rings, abandoned, or abused. After being rescued, many have gone on to be adopted by families in Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
Pimentel makes all this happen with help from workers, volunteers, and family–specifically his 20-year-old daughter Luna who is studying to become a veterinarian. Whenever he’s feeling overwhelmed, he finds inspiration in browsing through the photos of all the dogs he’s rescued.