In early October, news broke that hurricane Delta was roaring towards the shores of Cancun, Mexico. People all over the country began taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and those within their household.
But what happens when your household consists of 300 dogs and an assortment of other animals, all of which need protection from the impending disaster? This was the question that Ricardo Pimentel had to ask himself after disaster threatened to destroy the very thing he had spent his life building.
Ricardo heard about Hurricane Delta and knew he needed to create a safe place for all the stray animals
Founder of Tierra de Animales — a shelter for the abandoned, Pimental is more than just your average animal lover. The young Cancunian has dedicated his life to housing animals, who otherwise have nowhere to go.
For over nine years, he has cared for over 500 animals — including stray cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, horses, sheep, pigs, cows, and donkeys.
So, when reports started surfacing of an impending hurricane, Pimental was left with a huge dilemma. He knew the dog shelters weren’t strong enough to stand up to a Category 4 storm.
Time was running out. The hurricane was well on its way, and the shelter was sure to be destroyed. Pimental knew he had to do something. Spurred by his passion for animals, he made the radical decision and invited the pups into his home for a sleepover.
“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.” Pimentel told The Dodo.
Time was of the essence, but bringing 300 dogs inside was no easy feat. For five hours, Pimentel and his volunteers rounded up the pups and helped them inside before the hurricane made landfall.
“We had to bring them in on leash two by two,” Pimentel said. “Some of them are afraid or don’t know how to walk on a leash, so we had to carry them to the house, but in the end, it was worth it because they are all safe.”
With his house now fully stocked with enough food and supplies to last them through the crisis the only thing left to do was to sit and wait for the hurricane to pass.
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.
Thankfully, by the time the hurricane reached the sanctuary, it was only a Category 2 storm. Still very dangerous winds of between 96 and 110 mph (154 and 160 kmh), but not as deadly. Thanks to Pimental’s big house and even bigger heart, the residents of Tierra De Animales were kept out of harm’s way.
As the news of Pimental’s selfless act spread, people all over the world praised and thanked him for what he had done with many offering donations in support.
Sadly, despite the shelter staff’s best efforts, they could not protect their infrastructure from the hurricane, and by the time it had passed their building was left devastated.
Even though a lot of the property was destroyed beyond repair, Pimental remains hopeful. He has planned to use the influx of donations that he has received since the incident, to build a hurricane-proof facility that will keep the animals safe and sound 365 days of the year.