Costa Rica: Dona Sandra, community hero for animals


By Davide Ulivieri, Cycle 4 Strays

On September 15th, 1821 Costa Rica proclaimed its independence from Spain. This is a date that Ticos (as Costa Ricans like to refer to themselves) celebrate with passion every year. September 15 is also the name of a small housing project in the south side of the capital city of San Josè. This is where Doña Sandra Rojas resides and this is her story.

Doña Sandra always had a soft spot for animals. As a child, she noticed the strays in her community, scruffy dogs huddling under an overhanging roof to stay dry during rainy season or skinny ones roaming in constant search for food. She remembers befriending many, checking on them and offering a kind word and a little comfort.

Over the years, as the problem of homeless animals in her neighborhood became more severe, Sandra started to take a more proactive approach to trying to at least manage the situation. She started a sort of homemade triage system, quickly assessing the conditions of the strays she encountered and helping first the ones who needed help the most. Soon, the neighbors noticed her efforts and started to call on her whenever a sad case needed immediate attention.

“At first I was trying to save them all, but the magnitude of the problem was such that I was exhausting what little resources I had without even putting a dent in the problem,” tells Sandra while gently petting her latest rescued best friend. “Eventually, I learned to prioritize things and started working towards addressing the long term solution of the issue. This was hard because my instinct was to run out and rescue, but I had to steel myself and will myself to plan and stay the course…” she adds with a sad smile.

Today Sandra is a recognized community leader in Barrio 15 de Setiembre, spearheading the effort to organize and promote the low-cost spay & neuter clinics that are held there on a regular basis, distributing flyers and educational material about responsible pet ownership, looking for places suitable for hosting the clinics and, generally, counseling her fellow citizens on building a community free of animal suffering.

Thanks to a small grant from the SNIP Foundation (Spay Neuter International Project) Sandra was able to snip, vaccinate and de-worm 5 recently rescued dogs who are now being put up for adoption. As soon as a few go to good homes, a few more come in from the street and are brought back to health by her loving efforts.

Together with the volunteers of ANPA (Asociación Nacional Protectora de los Animales) and the dedicated veterinarians who believe in offering low-cost community clinics, Sandra is turning the tide on animal welfare in her neck of the woods.

It is community heroes like Sandra that make the SNIP/ANPA model so successful. The recipe is simple: take a few dedicated animal lovers, add a sprinkle of committed veterinarians, mix in a municipality that understand the importance of humanely controlling pet population and very quickly you notice less strays roaming the streets and more well taken care pets being walked by their owners.

To learn more about the work of SNIP Foundation in Costa Rica and other Central American countries, click here.

Photo: Courtesy of SNIP Foundation

Tanzania: Rescuing Fele

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Fele is just six weeks old, and he’s already passed all his courses in cuteness! Rescued from the street by TAWESCO, in Tanzania, he wasn’t doing too well and had a bad cold, with a fever and lots of sneezing and coughing.  With lots of good vet care, he should be all better in another six weeks, then he’ll get his rabies vaccine, and be neutered and de-wormed and will be looking for his forever home.

TAWESCO, founded several years ago by Dr. Thomas Kahema, does an amazing job helping the animals in Tanzania.  Their programs include Street Animal Health (veterinary care and spay/neuter), Working Donkey Welfare, Humane Education in Schools and Communities, and Advocacy.

Photo: Courtesy of TAWESCO

To visit the Facebook page of TAWESCO, click here. (Caution: Some photos are graphic.)

India: Chennai: Puppy’s mom helps with rescue

Mom licks her rescued puppy

Midway through the morning, a man called Blue Cross about a puppy he said had fallen into a well.


Rushing to the scene, Dawn Williams, Resident Manager of Blue Cross, along with volunteers Mr. Mohit and Mr. Sushant, arrived at the field, to find that the caller didn’t seem to be there, and there was no way to reach the well to rescue the puppy.


The well was in the middle of a paddy field, but security guards wouldn’t allow them to go through the fence. Finally, a helpful by-stander, Mr. Nagaraj, took them aside and led them to a short cut to get into the paddy fields.  There they found, not one well, but four wells, about 500 meters (1500 feet) apart from each other.  Which one had the puppy fallen into?


Out of nowhere, a dog came up to them, whining, then running around their feet in circles. The dog, who was the mother dog, led Dawn and the volunteers straight to the right well, about one kilometer (.62 miles) from the road.  Peering over the edge, they could see the puppy down below.


With Mr. Mohit and Mr. Sushant holding ropes, Dawn bravely went down into the well to rescue the puppy, bringing her safely out.

Puppies with their new people


Both puppies have now found very happy homes. Ms. Janani Kamakshi adopted the puppy who fell into the well, and Ms. Revathi adopted the sibling.

The mother dog was rescued too and will be spayed as soon as her health is a bit better.


Blue Cross’s ABC-AR (spay/neuter, anti-rabies) program has been helping community dogs in Chennai for over sixty years, preventing the birth of many thousands of puppies that would have been homeless, and finding homes for rescued puppies.  Blue Cross helps animals of many species, including cows, cats, pigeons, and pigs.

To visit the website of Blue Cross, click here.

To visit their Facebook page, click here.

Photos: Courtesy of Blue Cross



Snow White goes home for Christmas!

Kavita, Snow White, and Satish

Kavita and her husband, Satish, take care of several strays in their bunglow in Nandivali Road. PAWS each year vaccinates all their strays free! Kavita and Satish named this little one ‘Snow White.’

Snow White got adopted on Christmas day! Many such orphaned, roaming pups need a caring home, Instead of buying a foreign breed, adopt an animal from our rescue center! The care fact sheet and vaccination will be provided by PAWS! Don’t buy while homeless animals die! Call PAWS at 9820161114 for further information.

Wishing all a Merry Christmas and all animals in your care a happy and safe holiday!


Nilesh Bhanage

Founder – PAWS

Helpline +91 9820161114

“Hands that help are holier than lips that pray”

PAWS is located in Mumbai, India.

Photo: Courtesy of PAWS