Don't Let Cancun Go To The Dogs (and Cats)
with Beatrice Ang

Recently rescued but in need of a good home!

Some of CANDi’s two-legged members: Sue Urie, VP Marketing & Public Relations (also Business Development Mgr Western Canada for Vacation.com) and Darci Galati, President and Founder

Maria Alicia with her grateful charges

Everywhere you look, there are dogs wandering the streets in Cancun. In town to attend the Cancun Travel Mart, I took the opportunity to visit an animal shelter founded by Darci Galati, President and Founder of Cats and Dogs International (CANDi). Galati, a resident of Kelowna, B.C., is a tourism industry veteran and the founder of Dargal Interline travel agency.



Profoundly affected by the number of Cancun’s stray dogs and cats, Galati entered into a partnership with Cancun resident María Alicia Salgado who founded RAP (Respeta Ayuda y Protege A.C.) in 2005 in response to the same problem.



Running a shelter for the animals in Bonfil (about a 15-minute drive from downtown Cancun), Salgado, a dog trainer by profession, currently has 60 dogs at the shelter; 25 in her home office and about 10 cats at another venue. Besides providing a home for these creatures, this joint venture operates a spay/neuter clinic where 290 dogs and cats underwent the procedure last month.



A visitor is greeted most enthusiastically upon entering the gates of the shelter. The residents rush at you, licking, and occasionally, jumping in excitement. Comprised mostly of mixed breeds, the group also included a pure-bred Basset Hound, a Dachshund, a Rottweiler and others. Salgado picks up abandoned creatures when she notices them in the same spot more than two or three times.



CANDi has garnered the support of ACTA in spreading awareness of the stray problem. The organization is in talks with Cancun resorts to implement the Cat Café, a partnership program with hotels and resorts to provide long-term care, and to spay/neuter and vaccinate stray cats that frequent their grounds. In addition, CANDi is working with ACTA to create a platform where travel agents and tourists can send their concerns about any inhumane animal experiences they encounter at a resort or destination to ACTA. CANDi would then work with ACTA to address these concerns.


To further help these dogs and cats, CANDi makes it easy for travellers to adopt a pet. In fact it is so easy that one could take a dog or cat home on the flight home. The sad part is, due to a lack of funds, the shelter is poised to close shop on December 1, 2009.


What can you do to help? Galati has several suggestions: “Travel agencies could post our logo on their website and help increase awareness that (such) an organization exists. Travellers who encounter a stray dog or cat during their vacation do not know how to help. We also have a dog escort program to assist in getting the rescued dogs to the U.S. and Canada.†More details on this can be found at: www.candiinternational.org



“If we could set up a challenge for all travel agents to donate $10, we could raise enough money to keep the shelter and the clinic open,†she added. For monetary donations, log onto: www.candiinternational.org. Tax deductible receipts will be available to donors from the U.S. and Canada.



Making a difference in a dog’s life can also do much for tourism in Cancun.

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