Animal Shelter in Crisis: Help Needed to Save Critical Rescue Operation

Boulder, CO, May 2023 ― Since 2001, Isla Animals Rescue has been working tirelessly to rescue and sterilize street dogs and cats on the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, offering vital free and reduced cost services to a community that desperately needs them. To date, hundreds of thousands of animals have been helped, and this year alone, they’ve rescued 140 dogs and performed almost 500 free spay/neuters.

Prior to the founding of Isla Animals, Isla Mujeres was an island overrun with starving, neglected dogs and cats. Unsterilized and unwanted, their unchecked breeding was bringing more and more animals into a world where they’d be destined for the same miserable life and the same risk of instant electrocution — the island’s method of animal control before Isla Animals began.

But now, the brave efforts of the Isla Animals team have been upended by the government of Isla Mujeres, which recently reclaimed the space inhabited by Isla Animals, leaving the rescue organization homeless like the abandoned animals they work so diligently to protect.

“Without the space, we are forced to take a step back, rethink and regroup. We are absolutely devastated! We’ve had to stop bringing these poor animals into safety, and leave them starving and diseased on the streets while we try to figure out what on earth we are going to do. Definitely, we will not be able to work at the rhythm we have so far, and it breaks our hearts to know that regardless of the passion our very small team of volunteers puts into our work toward the cats and dogs of this region, our hands are tied,” said Alison Sawyer, founder of Isla Animals.

The government offered Isla Animals a tiny, 10 x 8 foot building, which is far too small to even meet the storage needs of Isla Animals. The rescue group had to act fast to find temporary space.

“We have found an immediate, small and very temporary solution to keep working toward the wellbeing of the animals,” explained Trina Noakes, Director of Isla Animals Rescue. “But there’s just not enough room — it’s someone’s house! Our numbers will now be reduced to approximately 20% of our previous capacity. Even the moving has put us in a terrible financial strain that we had not contemplated, and we are so worried for all the dogs and cats.”

In spite of the unthinkable setback, Noakes’ determination — and that of her volunteers and team — remains steadfast.

“Twenty-two years and tens of thousands of dogs and cats saved — passion, sweat and tears — all of that will not be thrown away at the whim of an ungrateful government that doesn’t appreciate how we have taken care of their problem,” added Sawyer.

Isla Animals is in critical need of the public’s help. They have launched a Go Fund Me campaign ( to raise money to build a new shelter. More information can be found (and donations can also be made) at

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