Ricardo Pimentel had few alternatives as Hurricane Delta barreled into the Mexican resort town of Cancun in the early days of October.
Pimentel is the director of Tierra de Animales, a jungle-enclosed animal refuge outside of Cancun. Over 500 animals, including stray cats, dogs, birds, turkeys, horses, lambs, pigs, cows, and donkeys, have been under his care for nine years.
He knew the dog shelters weren’t strong enough to stand up to a Category 4 storm, so he did what any animal lover would do — he invited the pups into his home for a sleepover.
“We have two bedrooms, one kitchen and one bathroom available for volunteers who want to come and stay here to help us with all the things that we have to do,” Pimentel told The Dodo. “We decided to put almost all the dogs inside the house, simply because we don’t fully trust in the shelters that we currently have because they aren’t hurricane-proof.”
But it was no little task to get 300 dogs inside. Before the cyclone hit, Pimentel and his helpers spent five hours gathering the puppies and assisting them inside.
Pimentel recalled, “We had to lead them in two by two. We had to carry several of them to the home since they couldn’t walk on a leash or were terrified of it, but in the end it was worth it because they are all secure.
With so many animals in such a small house, Pimentel expected that they’d make a bit of a mess. But he was pleased when everyone seemed to get along.
“They were actually very well-behaved all night,” he said.
Fortunately, the hurricane was just a Category 2 storm when it made landfall at the sanctuary, albeit the powerful winds nonetheless caused damage to the building.
“When the hurricane passed the next morning, we had to do a lot of repairs and clean all the places where the animals lived of trees and branches, “added Pimentel. “The next day, they remained at the house until around 5 or 6 p.m.