A unique shelter for dogs — and one pig — is struggling to get back on its feet after Mexico’s devastating earthquake four months ago.
The tale of perseverance involves the “Can-geles” shelter in Mexico City. Its name is a combination of the Spanish slang for dog, “can,” and “angeles” or angels.
The shelter is run by Jair Benavides and his wife, Mariam Gutierrez de Velasco. They go by their “dog family” nicknames of Jair Solcan and Mariam Luzcan, which respectively translate to “Sundog” and “Lightdog” in English.
They have about 20 dogs, and a pig, and regularly take in strays, whose numbers vary because they are quickly trained and put up for adoption.
When the Sept. 19 quake shook Mexico’s capital it severely damaged the five-story building next to the couple’s row house. They had to get out quickly, and are living in a crowded garage that a neighbor lent them. Authorities are demolishing the quake-damaged neighboring building and it may be three months of more before they get back into their home.
But they continue caring for their canine charges despite the challenges.
The whole pack is quite a sight to see when they go to nearby parks for walks in a patched-up old VW van. The couple also provides daycare and walks for neighbors’ dogs.
Mariam estimates she has rescued and placed in adoption upward of 2,000 dogs over the last couple of decades.
“They are part of my life,” she says. “They have taught me unconditional love.”