Anita’s Animals

By Jackie Kellum


Anita---Aug12As a person walks down, or up that long steep street seeing the various Ajijic tianguis  booths,   it seems pretty easy  – show up,  set up,   and sell. It’s not that simple. Anita Strehlow of Anita’s Animals goes to the Ajijic market every Wednesday, in the heat, cold, rain or shine.  Preparation starts  days  before, with re-organizing the many boxes of paperback books. She makes sure that the clothes  for  sale  have been cleaned and  ironed; organizes the  food, water, pet crates, newspapers, other pet care supplies  needed for the day,  for  the  adoptable kittens and puppies that will be  going with her to  the market. She takes  a  few extra empty crates  for kittens/puppies that may be turned in during that day. The  truck  is   loaded   late  Tuesday , except for the kittens/puppies. Wednesday morning comes  early – 4:30AM! The  kittens/puppies are put in the truck for the ride in the dark to Ajijic. Then she waits in line with the other vehicles  to  off-load and setting up everything.

The day is filled with many  people. Some have questions and requests for help. Anita gives pet educational information, including  referrals for Mexican Nationals,  does screening of potential adoptive pet “parents”, accepting in rescued animals, happily accepting donations,  and hopefully making some sales,  which is Anita’s main source of  money  to support  her  rescue work. The market closes around 3:00 PM, at which time   trucks line up again  awaiting access for re-packing  and departure. She  drives  home,  hopefully having had some adoptions,  and not returning with more puppies and kittens than she brought to the market that morning. 

Anita unpacks, putting the kittens/puppies into their respective places, and the “for sale” items back into storage. It is now about 6PM or so, and time for the cat and dogs’ evening meal and preparation to settle them in  for night time. With  any good luck, no one will show up after 8 PM with an animal they want to bring to her. Anita hopes the newly arrived puppies/dogs have adjusted and will not be barking during the night so she does not have to get up at 1 or 2AM to quiet them, and  she might be able to get a well deserved  quiet  night’s sleep.

The “official” hours of the sanctuary are 9AM – 2PM and 4PM – 6PM. Anita’s usual everyday is 7 days  week, no holidays off. Work day  starts  at 7AM with a check of each animal,  and organizing what needs to be done on  that  particular day.  Anita has three paid staff; each  person has their assigned  tasks and responsibilities. These range from:  cleaning the animal resident areas,  trips to the Vet. , picking up donated pet food and sale items,  purchasing  and  picking up pet food, going with Anita  to get a rescued animal from  someone who has been able to trap one, on-going  facility  maintenance and repairs,  bathing of dogs,  laundry,  twice a day  feeding,  scheduled  kennel disinfecting,  etc.

Anita coordinates the tasks to be accomplished each day, and tries to prepare  for unexpected things. She does daily animal examinations,  gives scheduled vaccinations, sets  up Vet. health checks and spaying-neutering surgeries, provides follow-up Vet care, “in-take” assessments of animals, meeting and  talking with many visitors, interviewing potential adoptive parents, taking the many phone calls, etc..      

 This is no easy undertaking, as there can be on any given day 50 – 60 dogs and 45 – 50 cats, not  including kittens, puppies, mother cats and dogs and litters. I am tired   just thinking about her “normal”  day. But, this is Anita’s passion, and   she does  it  with dedication, compassion, dignity and grace.

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