The roar of the thunder and pounding of the rain were so loud that at first Jim and Linda didn’t hear the pitiful cries of the small kitten on their doorstep. When they finally noticed the meowing and opened the door, they saw a tiny, wet, hungry furball shivering from fear and cold huddled on their doorstep. That was the summer of 2007, my family’s first year as turtle volunteers. Jim and Linda were volunteers with the turtle program too, and they brought the little white and gray kitten to us the next morning and asked us if we could take care of her. That kitten was our first animal rescue. We named her Coco, and we loved her the instant we saw her. Coco was soon joined by Tigger, a skinny tiger-striped kitten who just walked in our door one day and never left. Every year since then we have had many more cats that we have rescued. Their names were Sparky, Zumba, Angel, Big Mouth, Spiderman, Bugeyes, Yoda, Orangey, Zebra, Garfield, Blackula, PopTart, Blackie, LoveBug, Bitey, Fanta, and WildThing.
One of our most recent rescues was three kittens which were found in a trash can in San Pancho. They were only about two weeks old and couldn’t eat solid food yet, so we had to bottle feed them powdered cat formula every four hours. That was a LOT of work and they were very messy, but it was really cute to watch their ears wiggle when they drank milk. It was not so cute to have to wipe their bottoms to make them go to the bathroom, though. Our friends took two of the kittens home with them and we kept one of them, whom we named Bug Eyes. My sister is training him to do circus tricks like jumping through hoops and climbing a ladder.
Cats aren’t the only animals that we have helped. Our friend brought us a pit bull that was very skinny because her owner didn’t take care of her. The first thing we did was give her a bath because she was crawling with fleas. Our landlord wouldn’t let us keep the dog, so we had to find a home for her quickly. That weekend we found a home for her with a nice couple who named her Chiva. She still remembers us though, and whenever we see her on the street, she greets us with happy smiles and lots of licks.
Another time, we saw a girl swinging a baby iguana around by a string tied around its neck. We thought the iguana was dead, but then we saw it move. We asked the girl if we could have the iguana and she gave it to us along with another one that was tied to a chair. The strings were so tight around their necks even a Popsicle stick couldn’t fit underneath. We rushed home and cut the strings off and released the iguanas in the jungle.
Unfortunately, not all of our rescues have had happy endings. Once we saw a very skinny dog on the side of the highway. My mom always has a bag of dog food in the trunk of the car, so we pulled over and gave the dog some food. She tried to eat, but she couldn’t swallow. We couldn’t just leave the dog there like that so we took her to the vet. The vets gave her an IV and we bought her a sweater and a heating pad to keep her warm. They tried very hard to save her life, but she was just too sick to survive. They said that all she had in her stomach was some sticks and gravel. We cried when she died, but at least we know she received a lot of love in her last few days.
Right now we are taking care of four one-month-old kittens whose mother was killed by dogs in Sayulita. They are very scared of people because they were born in an empty lot and have never been around humans before. We play with them a lot and they are getting used to us. In two weeks they will be ready to be spayed and neutered and will need new homes. It is sad when we have to say goodbye to these animals because we fall in love with all of them—but it is really great when we know they are adopted by people who will take good care of them.
Starlie adds this information about herself: “My name is Starlie and I am twelve. Every summer since 2007, my mom, my sister, and I have volunteered with the sea turtle conservation project. This year, we decided to stay the whole year. I am in seventh grade and I’m homeschooled.”
The website for the turtle conservation project is www.project-tortuga.org.