Animal advocates worried for future of dog sanctuary in Puerto Vallarta

For 12 years, dogs and other animals, have been given a second chance to experience good health, new homes, and the joy of belonging to a family — because of the PV SPCA, the brainchild of a California woman named Janice Chatterton, its powerhouse founder.

Chatterton oversaw, fund-raised, and managed the charity, with a determination that some say has inspired a cultural shift on how dogs are treated in Puerto Vallarta.

“This is a world-class facility,” said Stephanie Dubinsky, a Canadian who has been with the PV SPCA from the beginning. “She was the fearless leader.”

But now the fate of the sanctuary is uncertain.

Janice Chatterton is gone: she died in March after a sudden illness, and her fundraising and business acuity the sanctuary relied on to do its work is gone as well.

For Dubinsky the idea that Chatterton’s dream may be in jeopardy is unthinkable.

“This organization and this facility has housed literally thousands of dogs and rescued them off the streets,” she said. “We’re taking in dogs that can’t walk anymore, whose limbs have been severed, who are dragging themselves, who are near starvation.” In other words, dogs that likely would otherwise be dead.

“In Canada alone, there are 2,000 dogs that have come from that charity, that have come to Canada,” said Vancouver’s Deanna Pacitti, board member of PVCA Animal Rescue, the Canadian arm of the Mexican shelter. “That’s a lot of dogs — 300 dogs a year off the streets, which in and of itself is amazing.”

The non-profit charities work together to adopt dogs from Mexico to Washington, Oregon, Alberta and B.C., one at a time, that are fully vetted, spayed or neutered. Pacitti remembers Chatterton being especially impressed with the efforts from the north:

“She said Canadians always step up — she said, whenever I’m in a jam and I don’t have a place for a dog, there’s always a Canadian that puts up her hand and says, ‘I will take that dog.'”

A network of volunteers in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island help with everything from fostering dogs in preparation for their new families here, to transporting them from the airport, to supporting new adopters with training and problem-solving.

But it is maintaining and operating the physical shelter in Puerto Vallarta that has those devoted to keeping it running, like Dubinsky, worried — costs are high and the dogs keep coming.

Since Chatterton passed away there are half as many dogs being cared for at the shelter — an uncertain future has forced them to scale back until they can establish steady funding. They are still rescuing dogs, but when Chatterton was alive she gave stability to the sanctuary and its work that will be difficult to replace, as will the impact her inspirational dedication had on those around her.

Dubinsky says the 84-year-old would be at the shelter three times a week, providing hands-on medical care to the dogs, bathing them, and sometimes hand-feeding those too weak to stand up. “That’s just the type of lady she was,” Dubinsky said. “She was never going to quit — everything was for the dogs.”

“We’re going to find a way to keep doing this,” Chavira Prieto said. “We’re still rescuing dogs. We cannot stop.”

“Janice said to me over Christmas, ‘I don’t feel like I’ve done enough,'” Pacitti said. “And all of us are like, are you kidding, what you’ve done is amazing.”

Dubinsky agrees. “I think she would be very proud of the way that we’re continuing to run the facility — it is absolutely up to her standards,” she said. “We’re just trying to live up to her legacy.”

Shelley Moore, CTV News Vancouver – Read Original Story

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