Over twelve years ago, I found a bag of 8 kittens that were thrown in the water and left there to die. Minutes before, I had seen a group of people on the dock, but assumed they were most likely innocently fishing, and thought nothing of it. It was only when they had left that I heard the nerve racking cries of kittens, which led me out to the dock. Quickly realizing what had happened, I ran into the yard for a pole hook to pull the bag out of the water. Sadly, I was only able to save 6 of the kittens in that bag, and unfortunately, this horrific act was repeated multiple times. In the course of a couple of months, I had found and saved the lives of 20 kittens, which I nursed back to health. I tirelessly tried to find new homes for them, but soon realized that people on the island did not like cats (for whatever reason) and would go out of their way to hurt them — that was why they were literally throwing them away into the sea! Eventually because of my love, compassion and empathy toward these innocent creatures, the idea of P.A.W – (Protecting Animal Welfare) Cat Sanctuary came to be by nurturing and caring for the cats that were saved from the sea.
As word spread about the Cat Sanctuary, more and more cats were brought to my front door, as others spoke of the same horrific sight of cats drowning in the sea, and didn’t know where else to bring them. I lovingly accepted these cats into my home, and painstakingly brought each cat to Belize City to be checked out, spayed or neutered, and to be given shots, vaccines, and/or medicine to bring them back to good health. With more than 30 cats and counting, I then began to build outdoor enclosures to further house the incoming cats, and set specific daily routines to feed, clean and love on each cat. Now that we’re well over 80 cats, it’s become part of my daily routine to care for the cats, and I really couldn’t imagine my life without them. Although it’s a labor of love to maintain so many animals, I refuse to let them back into the horrible atmosphere where I first found them, and until someone lovingly adopts them, they will continue to live out their lives in our little piece of paradise, here in Belize.
Over the years, I successfully re-homed many of the originally saved cats (with a few still living out their lives here at P.A.W), and although all of the cats here are technically also up for adoption, most of the cats living here now are senior cats with medical issues. Myself and our volunteers continue to care for these cats to ensure their quality of life is as good as it can be – happy, cared for, and most certainly loved.
So while you are here at PAUSE you will see a group of kitties running around the yard starting at 6:30 a.m. weather permitting, as the sanctuary has several catteries and there are 12 to 15 kitties that live together mostly in harmony in each cattery. Every day each cattery has its assigned one to two hour time when they are let out into the garden to run around and be kitties while their catteries are scrubbed and cleaned, after the time has elapsed they return to their respective places to have breakfast & supper and sleep all day while the other groups are let out. After the groups have had their time we let out several cats individually that are ill and cannot be with other cats or have some time of behavior that does not allow them to be with other cats. All cats get their time outside their catteries everyday.
PAUSE is not just a place; it´s an experience. It’s a place about empathy, compassion, giving back, and leaving this planet a little better than we found it.
All the catteries are very large and spacious and it’s a cage free environment except for a few ill cats who has to be separated so they will be put in very large cages until they recuperate.
Since cats are disliked on the island & people have opened our gates to set their pit bulls inside our premises to tear them apart, we have to protect our animals and therefore they have to sleep in their large enclosure called catteries so if this happens at night when we are asleep the cats are safe.
I am proud to say that P.A.W Cat Sanctuary is a legally registered NGO in Belize, and a 501C3 charity organization in the state of Arizona, U.S.A.
In an attempt to offset some of the costs, and to allow travelers to experience and live amongst a local Sanctuary, I opened up PAUSE Accommodations in 2007 which were basically 2 cabanas and 2 suites and in December of 2014, I open the hostel part of the business with our first 10 bed sunshine dorm. This is a family-run, non-smoking and eco-friendly haven for people & animals. With input from our guests and volunteers alike, we continue to expand and continue the conversation globally about protecting animal welfare, one step at a time.