• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Women Team Up for Grecia Animals

July 15, 2005

DOGS, catsand even the wildanimals aroundGrecia can counton a better futurethanks to two dedicatedanimal loverswho recently metand teamed up.Olga Núñezwas born andraised in Grecia, aCentral Valley coffeetown west ofSan José. She marriedand raised three children in the area,and for the past 10 years has been workingvirtually alone taking care of injuredand abandoned dogs and cats. She hasalso arranged spaying and neutering of thepet population through the AnimalProtection Association of Costa Rica’sanimal shelter in Heredia, north of thecapital.Though she did not keep records inthe early years, she says she has helpedclose to a thousand animals and placed atleast 300 in new homes. Her husbandOscar Barrantes and her grown childrenmay feel a little crowded out at times, butare tolerant of all the little guests shebrings home. Although most of the abandonedand injured animals eventually goto new homes, l6 dogs and four cats arepermanent pets.THESE include Toto, a bouncy wirehairedsomething-or-other that lost an eyeas a puppy when a thoughtless personkicked him in the face and left him withhis injuries, and Tífani, abandoned as atiny puppy because of malformed paws.“Nobody would adopt those two,”Núñez says, though both are heart stealers.If perpetual tail wagging is any indication,they are both happy dogs. Tífanican run and jump just as easily on herelbows, and Toto doesn’t miss a trickeven with just one eye.Núñez recalls her first animal rescue.Pinina was abandoned and starving. Núñezfelt sorry for her and brought her home.“In a short time she had seven puppies.Instead of rescuing one dog, I had eight.”Undaunted, Núñez continued rescuingand spaying animals until all of Greciawould call her to report creatures in needof help.MEANWHILE, a thousand milesaway in Edgewater, Florida, FrancesJones was running her own animal sheltercalled Lighthouse Rescue, where she rescuedand found new homes for 500-600animals a year, using the Internet as a tool(www.lighthouserescue.com). The rescuedranged from squirrels to horses andpigs, but were mostly dogs and cats. Herdedication, she says, goes back to the ageof 3, when someone deliberately killedher pet cat. The next year she began herrescue work with a nest of baby rats.“It’s unbelievable how cruel peoplecan be,” she says. “One woman turned ina dog she’d had for years because sherepainted the house and the dog didn’t gowith the new colors.”Another victim of mistreatment isSpanky, a huge yellow cat without earsbecause they were burned off when someonedoused him with fuel and set him onfire. Spanky now lives in Grecia withJones, her husband Bruce and a bunch ofbeautiful, well-behaved, rescued dogs.THE Joneses moved to Costa Rica inNovember and found a temporary homein Grecia while looking for a place oftheir own – a place near Grecia whereJones could set up a shelter and arrangespaying and neutering.It didn’t take her long to hear aboutNúñez. Whenever she talked about helpinganimals – which was often, she admits– someone would mention the name OlgaNúñez. Finally, a friend took her to meetNúñez and to help translate. Jones speaksno Spanish and Núñez no English.But no importa! The two womenbecame friends and are now workingtogether. Their first joint effort was a boxof puppies abandoned at too early an age.“They were undernourished and helpless.Puppies and kittens need their mothersto feed them and to teach them untilthey are at least two months old,” Jonessays. It’s a point she stresses when workingwith dogs and cats.Long on patience and practice, the twowomen were able to save three of thepuppies and offer them for adoption.NÚÑEZ says not a week goes by inwhich someone doesn’t report animal suffering.The work is overwhelming. At leastnow they can count on each other, and, inthe future, a shelter. They say they can usemore help with pet food, medicines, temporaryhomes for recovering animals, permanenthomes, transportation for spayingor veterinary visits, funds, even old blanketsand sheets in good condition, andhomes or locations for one-day spayingclinics. Anyone in the Grecia area who canhelp is welcome to call Jones (English) at494-5241 or Núñez (Spanish) at 494-3579.

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