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Playa Animal Rescue

This article highlights the stray dog problem in Mexico. It only took me 2 months in the country to realize there is an incredible amount of homeless dogs wandering the streets of Mexico. 

After doing some research and talking to a few people in the city I live in, I decided to visit Playa Animal Rescue (PAR) to better understand the issue and get involved as much as I can, in order to help these beautiful creatures to finally find their new home.

'Dogs at Playa Animal Rescue, Playa del Carmen'

Mexico has a street dog problem, the country has nowadays the largest number of stray dogs in Latin America and this has become a public health risk. But how many homeless dogs are in Mexico?


As reported by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, 70% of Mexico’s estimated 18 million dogs live on the street, either abandoned by their owners or born as strays. 


This is an insane number of dogs living in the streets and despite the efforts of some authorities and local animal rescue shelters to take care of the situation, the truth is that the situation is unbearable and there is not enough space and means in shelters to rescue all dogs.

Mexican street dogs

Most Mexican street dogs are super friendly, they are eager for you to pet them and of course if you happen to drop any kinds of food, you’ll probably make them happy for the rest of their day! On the other hand, there are many uncontrolled dogs, also developing diseases and this is putting at risk other wildlife in the areas they wander around.

Playa Animal Rescue – How it works and my experience at the shelter

Playa Animal Rescue, is one of the best non-profit initiatives in town. The shelter has only dogs for now and survives 100% on donations.

Playa Animal Rescue
'Graffiti at Playa Animal Rescue, Playa del Carmen'

Long before I decided to visit Playa Animal Rescue, I heard very good feedback from everyone volunteering there! Therefore before my visit, I got in touch with Mauricio Ramírez (Mau) who is Coordinator/MVZ at the shelter. 

Mauricio deals with the many issues related to the maintenance of the refuge; he also makes sure dogs are healthy and provides professional veterinarian assistance whenever animals need it, as he is a certified Vet! He has a team of two other workers who help cleaning, feeding and taking care of new doggies until they recover from their past street life and traumas.

When I see the transformation and progress these incredible animals make in their lives once they arrive in our refuge, I feel plenty and this encourages me to work harder for their well being

– Mauricio R.

Playa Animal Rescue
'Dogs at Playa Animal Rescue, Playa del Carmen'

My experience at PAR

I spent a few hours at the shelter on a Saturday morning in January 2021. I helped take dogs for a walk for which we made turns to make sure the animals would feel comfortable at all times. 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any previous experience! They also teach you the basics to do ‘proper dog walking’. I used to have a dog several years ago and only that Saturday I learnt a killer trick to make the dog stay by my side while walking in the street – They say it is never too late, isn’t it?

Playa Animal Rescue
'Me playing and petting one of the doggos in PAR, Playa del Carmen'
Playa Animal Rescue
'Taking one of the dogs for a walk at PAR, Playa del Carmen'

Once you finish walking dogs, you would give them a treat and then you can spend some time petting them and playing with them! The overall experience was very enriching – seeing how happy they are when they get a little love just melts my heart!

Playa Animal Rescue
'Volunteer playing with PAR doggies after walking then, Playa del Carmen'

Ps. The shelter follows COVID regulations and you should also wear your mask at all times even when you are walking the dog outside the shelter.

Volunteering at Playa Animal Rescue

PAR welcomes volunteers with wide open arms every week. If you live in Playa del Carmen or surroundings, know you could come to the shelter and take dogs for a walk, teach them a few tricks, clean them if you like and overall give them some LOVE!

'Volunteer taking dogs for a walk at PAR, Playa del Carmen'
'Doggo waiting for a treat after the morning walk at PAR, Playa del Carmen'

These activities are offered weekly at 9am from Monday to Thursday and Saturdays too. Make sure you get in touch with the shelter, at least 24h before you decide to come, so they can expect you and better prepare for your visit, to make sure you make the most out of it. You can either message the refuge via Facebook, Instagram or by sending an email to

Walking dogs at PAR
'Mauricio (PAR Coordinator) walking dogs in the morning at PAR, Playa del Carmen'

There are also several volunteers partnering with PAR, fostering dogs temporarily until they finally find their new home – the main goal is getting them reunited with their forever family.

Adopt a dog from Mexico

Playa del Carmen animal rescue makes sure dogs recover properly and once they are healthy enough, they get them vaccinated and sterilized in order to find them a new home.

Playa Animal Rescue
'Dog at PAR, Playa del Carmen'

This is where the Canadian Non-Profit Organization DIBS Rescue enters the game. They partner with Playa del Carmen animal rescue to help dogs find a home. Once the Mexican dog finds a temporary home in Canada, PAR gets in touch with travelers heading to the country and provides transport in-land, plane tickets and all the paperwork needed for the dog to be able to fly, escorted by the kind human who decides to volunteer to take the dog to Canada.

Upon arrival either a member of DIBS, the foster family or the new family will be waiting outside the airport to receive the lucky doggy! Check out some success stories that will surely warm your heart!

Dogs can be adopted in Mexico too, but the focus of PAR in the past years has been finding them a house in Canada.

Playa Animal Rescue Donations

As mentioned above this is a non-profit organization that survives through donations. Please click here if you would like to make a donation to Playa del Carmen animal shelter

Every little money would be very much appreciated. The refuge will use the money to provide dogs with food, medicine and more! – If you have any doubts, please don’t hesitate to write a comment below!

'Dog at PAR, Playa del Carmen'

Plan your trip: A quick guide to book your next adventure now

This is a detailed guide that will help you plan your trip from scratch and successfully prepare everything ahead of your departure. I follow these steps to book my trips and now you can do the exact same!

Purchase your flight

I use Skyscanner to book my flights since I can have oversight on the best deals. Alternatively, I use

Book your accommodation

For many years now I’ve used to find the best hotel deals. Hostelworld is my go-to for hostels.

Don’t forget your travel insurance

My favorite companies are SafetyWing (best relation product/value) and IATI Seguros (for Spanish speakers).

Choose your tours

I love traveling on my own, but for those activities that I need to pre-book I use Get Your Guide, Viator, and Civitatis.

Need Transportation?

Discover Cars, is the company that works best to rent a car. For transportation in Central America, I use GuateGo.

Packing Guide

Check out the list I’ve put together with my favorite travel gear and travel resources to help you pack for your trip.




  • 13 abril 2022

    Hello I came on a trip at Royalton there are 3 dogs I would like to come back and bring to Canada I am part of a Refuge on the Quebec province and Ontario I bring cats and dogs to get sterilized every month at North Bay Humane Society . I’m a big Animal lover saved lots of cats and some dogs . I need help to proceed and make sure that the dogs are catches have seen a vet and ready to fly back with me I’m going home Thursday but will come back if I have to but if arrangements could be all done or help me because I don’t know where to start and don’t speak Spanish .I won’t be able to take those poor dogs off my mind I will adopt one and find good homes I know the 2 animal rescues I work with will help find homes I would need to have a vet check Health card and vaccinations I can get them sterilized in Canada . I will start a go fund me if I have to also .please help me save those dogs. 1-705-477-1399 I can receive text or messenger


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