By Jackie Kellum
As a person walks down, or up that long steep street seeing the various Ajijic tianguis booths, it seems pretty easy – show up, set up, and sell. It’s not that simple. Anita Strehlow of Anita’s Animals goes to the Ajijic market every Wednesday, in the heat, cold, rain or shine. Preparation starts days before, with re-organizing the many boxes of paperback books. She makes sure that the clothes for sale have been cleaned and ironed; organizes the food, water, pet crates, newspapers, other pet care supplies needed for the day, for the adoptable kittens and puppies that will be going with her to the market. She takes a few extra empty crates for kittens/puppies that may be turned in during that day. The truck is loaded late Tuesday , except for the kittens/puppies. Wednesday morning comes early – 4:30AM! The kittens/puppies are put in the truck for the ride in the dark to Ajijic. Then she waits in line with the other vehicles to off-load and setting up everything.
The day is filled with many people. Some have questions and requests for help. Anita gives pet educational information, including referrals for Mexican Nationals, does screening of potential adoptive pet “parents”, accepting in rescued animals, happily accepting donations, and hopefully making some sales, which is Anita’s main source of money to support her rescue work. The market closes around 3:00 PM, at which time trucks line up again awaiting access for re-packing and departure. She drives home, hopefully having had some adoptions, and not returning with more puppies and kittens than she brought to the market that morning.
Anita unpacks, putting the kittens/puppies into their respective places, and the “for sale” items back into storage. It is now about 6PM or so, and time for the cat and dogs’ evening meal and preparation to settle them in for night time. With any good luck, no one will show up after 8 PM with an animal they want to bring to her. Anita hopes the newly arrived puppies/dogs have adjusted and will not be barking during the night so she does not have to get up at 1 or 2AM to quiet them, and she might be able to get a well deserved quiet night’s sleep.
The “official” hours of the sanctuary are 9AM – 2PM and 4PM – 6PM. Anita’s usual everyday is 7 days week, no holidays off. Work day starts at 7AM with a check of each animal, and organizing what needs to be done on that particular day. Anita has three paid staff; each person has their assigned tasks and responsibilities. These range from: cleaning the animal resident areas, trips to the Vet. , picking up donated pet food and sale items, purchasing and picking up pet food, going with Anita to get a rescued animal from someone who has been able to trap one, on-going facility maintenance and repairs, bathing of dogs, laundry, twice a day feeding, scheduled kennel disinfecting, etc.
Anita coordinates the tasks to be accomplished each day, and tries to prepare for unexpected things. She does daily animal examinations, gives scheduled vaccinations, sets up Vet. health checks and spaying-neutering surgeries, provides follow-up Vet care, “in-take” assessments of animals, meeting and talking with many visitors, interviewing potential adoptive parents, taking the many phone calls, etc..
This is no easy undertaking, as there can be on any given day 50 – 60 dogs and 45 – 50 cats, not including kittens, puppies, mother cats and dogs and litters. I am tired just thinking about her “normal” day. But, this is Anita’s passion, and she does it with dedication, compassion, dignity and grace. www.anitasanimals.com
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com