Once a Tourist in Mexico, Lost Dog Foundation’s Lisa Edwards Found Her Life’s Work Helping Strays
Deep Roots, Deep Commitment
After receiving official charity status this past April of 2012, Lost Dog Foundation founder Lisa Edwards has hit the ground running to help animal rescue groups save dogs in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Riviera Maya in Mexico, regions home to the major tourist destinations of Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen. This energetic businesswoman fell in love with these lush tropical paradises in 1991 but was struck by the sad conditions of the local dogs–many sleeping in the middle of the road, emaciated, begging outside of tiendas, or sadly digging through trash for food. At first, she just started bringing much-needed supplies down on her increasingly frequent trips south of the border to support the few people working to help the dogs. While volunteering at a spay and neuter clinic in Playa del Carmen, she met Ricardo Pimentel, an independent animal rescuer in Cancun. She was deeply inspired by his single-minded mission to save the street dogs of Cancun and Mexico and made a commitment then and there to help him. Soon afterwards, Lisa began working to help Ricardo establish and build a sanctuary for Mexican street dogs, Tierra de Animales (TdA). She continues to be very hands on in developing and promoting TdA and finding not only the resources to expand their operations in order to save more dogs but to also find new homes for these deserving dogs. Now through her Lost Dog Foundation (LDF), a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Lisa can reach even more donors and offer tax advantages for donations, a big plus for building support for her work.
Just Do It!
First and foremost, LDF focuses on finding funding to assist in rescue, rehabilitation, sterilization, and adoption of local street dogs at TdA and other local rescue organizations. But always a big picture thinker, Lisa also plans to secure the money to sponsor mobile and temporary spay and neuter clinics that can reach people who have no veterinary care available, no means to transport their animals to areas where there are vet services, and no access to sterilization for them, particularly in the small Mayan villages that lay just outside major tourist areas. “One of my dreams is to organize a “Vet Bus” which travels around to remote jungle communities to perform sterilizations and offer basic vet care.” Lisa says. And with plans to relocate to the Riviera Maya towns of Playa del Carmen or Tulum area in her future, she will also be working to improve the local Playa del Carmen “perrera” (pound) so that the general public has better access to it and the dogs receive regular care and attention. Currently the dogs that are brought in to this facility have little hope for adoption and facility conditions are challenging. “Making the perrera more accessible is a win-win solution for the dogs and for the local government,” Lisa said.
She further envisions a campaign in this heavily-visited vacation destination that exposes tourists to the plight of local animals and tells them how they can get involved, or just donate to help. “Increasing awareness is the key to many problems,” Lisa says. “There are millions of tourists each year passing through, shopping and enjoying the area, but the reality is that behind the façade of fancy resorts, there is rampant poverty among the local people and horrendous conditions for animals.” Lisa believes that many of these visitors would choose to help a little if they were just made aware of the conditions of animals only a few blocks from their resorts and hotel rooms. In fact, in her work as a part of Tierra de Animales, she frequently receives emails from vacationers wanting to help a dog they have seen. Just recently, she and TdA assisted tourists to bring a street dog home to the U.S. that they had befriended in the small town of Puerto Morelos.
Two very special TdA rescues that were saved with Lisa’s help
Room in Her Heart for All the Dogs in the World
Along with her nonstop work to help Mexican street dogs, Lisa also owns a busy and popular restaurant in the U.S., and is the proud mother of five rescue dogs, three from Mexico. Ms. Humane Advisor checked in with her about what she says to people who ask her why she doesn’t focus her advocacy efforts locally in the U.S. “I hear this comment, and I do understand why people would say it as there are certainly terrible problems everywhere and never enough homes. But when you travel to other countries and see the massive problems with homeless animal overpopulation–neglect, lack of resources and lack of animal welfare education–it really puts things into perspective. To generalize, you just do not see the severity of animal suffering in the US, Canada, etc., that you do in Mexico and certainly in many other developing countries as well. You have to view everything on a ‘scale’ and on my scale, the problems are much worse and my help is needed more in Mexico than in the U.S. The same argument could be made to people who support charities for children in Africa, or similar causes. But each cause strikes a chord within us, everyone has their own interests, and it takes a lot of people taking on different causes to truly help in the world. That being said, I am a supporter of local animal groups in the area where I live in the U.S. and support various animal causes through my business there.”
Well said, Lisa! The need is so great all over the world including our own backyards that there can never be enough people working to help animals and communities at any location that touches their heart.
Saving Countless Lives Every Day with Your Help–One Dog at a Time
Lisa admits that in her work to help Mexican dogs she’s seen a lot of tragedy and often had her heart broken; she’s rescued dogs lying in the street only to see them die soon thereafter because it was too late to help them. [See Ms. Humane Advisor’s story of Alux, a rescued TdA dog] However, she maintains her faith and purpose because she’s also seen that it’s possible to turn around a life with just a little help. “First off, people don’t realize that they can help and that secondly, even the smallest gesture can mean a better life for these dogs. Every donation COUNTS! Even if the donation amounts are small, it is the steady donors that make all of the difference. And especially in Mexico where your donation dollars go even further and can truly save lives every day. Or if you can’t donate but want to help, if you are on Facebook a great way to help is to simply share posts and photographs. Sharing and promoting our work goes a long way to exposing animal welfare issues to friends and friends of friends,” Lisa says. “For me and for many of our supporters, at the end of the day, it’s all about knowing that you have done right by an animal in need and given them a second chance. Every day my own dogs inspire me– three are from Cancun–and I always look at them enjoying their nice lives and I know they are telling me to help other dogs like them in need. Might be corny but that’s what I believe.”
Keep believing, Lisa, because your work helping the dogs of Mexico is inspiring, powerful, and courageous. Ms. Humane Advisor salutes you!
Easy Ways You Can Help Lisa Save the Dogs of Mexico
- Support Lost Dog Foundation by ordering a stylish fashion accessory for your cat or dog! Click here to order.
- Share this post with your friends!