Silvia Beas: "Helping street animals is my life."

One woman's struggle to make a difference has culminated in a new not-for-profit organization giving Manzanillo something desperately needed: a shelter. But there is still much work to be done.

by Susan Dearing

Please click on photos to enlarge

Volunteers get together at Silvia's home for grand opening of the shelter and the first sterilization clinic held Saturday, June 13. Silvia (in front), was as exuberant as the animals she loves.

A new not-for-profit animal shelter Unitos para Ayuda de Mascotas, A.C. (U.A.M.) is sending out an URGENT plea for desperately-needed medicines, either new, used or opened, or even with expired dates. The shelter/clinic is located in Salahua, and in English it's name is United to Help Mascots.

Silvia Beas, who founded the organization, has approximately 20-30 animals at her home, which has been turned into a shelter. This is a "no-kill" facility, and the purpose is to rescue street animals, cure them of their medical problems-- whether it be an injury, intestinal parasites, mange, etc. and find each animal a new home. The number of dogs at her facility vary from day-to-day because of the ultimate goal of re-homing the animals as soon as they are fit.

Silvia takes care of only dogs. Another woman has set up a shelter for cats in her home, while still another has an aviary for birds.

Silvia believes "There is no experience in life quite like saving a furry friend.  Please give a good home to these lost and abandoned babies who all have so much love and friendship to give back."

I was tied up for the grand opening because visitors were coming in and out, but normally I am free to roam Silvia's large yard. I have been known to get a little exuberant when people are around who are nice to me.

I am now healthy and looking for a forever home

The mission of U.A.M. is to take in unwanted and lost animals, provide shelter and care, find secure and loving homes, provide advice, support and guidance for pet owners and increase the public's awareness of its responsibility towards animals in society.

Silvia implores you to look through your medicine cabinet for medications you no longer need, such as antibiotics Doxicilina (Doxycycline), ciprofloxacino (Ciprofloxacin), vitamins of any kind; and animal medications: Jabon scabizan (soap for mange and skin parasites), Bromitol Plus, or other anti-inflammatory medicines such as naproxeno (Naproxen), Pranacut, RP Mexicef tabs (200 mg), RP Mexoxipets tabs (2.5 mg), Meloxicam (7.5 mg).

If you don't have any of these medications on hand, and still want to help, a generic pharmacy in Mexico will give you more for your money on these human meds. The vets will adjust the dosage for the animals they are treating. If you are living in the U.S. or Canada, talk to your local veterinarians, and ask them for help. Show them this article. U.A.M. will also be happy to give you a letter on its stationery that you can show, authorizing you to collect donations in their behalf.

I am very friendly and love to be held, and playing is a priority!

I am the mother of 5 puppies
awaiting sterilization. I am very thin from feeding them, and I am so glad  the U.A.M. people are helping me!

Obviously, large amounts of dog and cat food are also needed. Silvia says she won't turn away any animal brought to her, but right now her plate is full without money and donations, but she will do her best with what she has to work with to get the dogs in her charge healthy and ready for adoption. Most street animals Silvia takes in are in terrible shape--dehydrated, starving, anemic, injured, diseased--and many times, she states sadly, when a female has puppies, its owners just dump them out with the trash. "Education of the general public," she insists, "is the key to helping animals."

Other items much needed are collars, leads, leashes, leather chews, squeaky toys, harnesses, balls, balls on ropes, puppy and kitty milk, rag toys, grooming aids, clean sheets, blankets and towels, dog and cat beds, surgical masks and gloves, ear drops for infection (such as Synalar-O in Mexico), bleach, hydrogen peroxide, Borax (perborato de sodio in Mexico, or sodium perboate--NOT boric acid), copy paper, trash bags, and household disinfectant.

I am a street mother, too, and thanks to U.A.M. I am now healthy enough for spaying. The nice woman, Silvia, is taking care of my puppies, too!

Dr. Ruelas and his daughter preparing the instruments for the sterilization surgeries

The animals are attended to by veterinarian Ramon Ruelas Aviles, with 22 years of private practice in Colima. He is a specialist in small species surgical procedures, and works with the new organization, donating his time and skills. His wife Karina is also a vet, assisted by their 12-year-old daughter Daniela, who aspires to be a vet. It is amazing what their animal-loving family is doing to help the street animals taken in by Silvia. 

Silvia isn't alone in her quest to help animals; her husband Miguel and son Ligget are very supportive. According to Silvia, one day Miguel tells her they just can't take care of any more animals, and then that evening he comes home holding a street dog to weak to walk. "I just couldn't leave him there," he explains to her. Ligget is there to help with the heavy work, and his love of animals is evident in the way that he gently holds them and talks to them.

Mia helping unload the equipment, while dozens of volunteers arrive to lend a hand.

Ribbon cutting ceremony
for the new facility

Daniela brings in surgical gear

The first patient for surgery

Ligget holds the patient after
her first tranquilizer

New pet owner

Preparing medication

Cleaning & shaving

Ready for surgery

Vet team goes to work


"I am a proud German Shepard. I was savagely kicked by my owner who came home drunk, only to be thrown in the street after I was injured and couldn't walk. I lived for several days like that, in pain, not able to eat or walk. Finally, Silvia found me and took me to her home. 

"At the time, Silvia was very sick. She, also, was going to the hospital.  We made a pact: She would live if I would live, and we'd take care of each other. She is my first human mother, but she told me I would soon have a new and permanent home. Please help me with my second operation and adopt me. I promise I'll be the best friend ever.!"

The one bone in the Shepard's forepaw has been pinned, but Dr. Ruelas determined that the dog is too weak to undergo another surgery so soon to repair the other broken joint, and they are hoping to get medicines to relieve the pain of this poor animal while his health improves enough to have a second operation. The actual costs in the first operation amounted to $8,000 pesos (about $600 USD) for the specially-made metal pin, x-rays, sutures, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, IV solution, etc., half of which has been paid, but there still is a balance due, and a second surgery, plus more medication. It's easy to see how costs can mount up with an injured animal.

This dog needs anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medicines, and vitamins so he can improve enough to have the second surgery to allow him to walk on all four legs. He will also be looking for a good home, as are many others once they are healthy again. He is very loving and enjoys the attention he is getting at Silvia's house. He is about a year old, and, will make someone a loving companion.

However, Silvia feels it's worth the effort to fix up such a beautiful animal, and many others do too. Last Saturday, the shelter held its first sterilization clinic, with the doctors making a long drive from Colima to do the operations. Beginning at 10 a.m. with the setting up of the OR area, the doctors worked until approximately 6 p.m. They were only able to spay 4 animals due to the fact the the first female was very anemic, and was bleeding internally. They were able to stabilize her, and save her life, but it took a long time to complete the surgery. The other 3 animals were also extremely weak, and their surgeries took longer, too. The first patient, a beautiful-looking Weinereimer, was found starving and so weak she could hardly walk. One of the board members of U.A.M. immediately fell in love with her, and she now has a forever home.

One of the volunteer's children
enjoys petting puppies that are
up for adoption.

A party to celebrate the grand opening of the shelter was complete with music and tasty Mexican food

The daughter of one of the volunteers waited patiently all day for her birthday party, finally held at 9 p.m.

U.A.M. celebration cake

If you are coming down from the U.S. and Canada, bring something with you. Try to get your local vets to donate meds (out of date, doctors free samples), sutures, surgical drapes, masks, shampoo or soap for skin parasites, or any other items to cut down on the organization's costs. Most street dogs are in terrible condition, but once treated with the proper medications, a hairless, mangy dog will grow a new, shiny coat in just a few months, with immediate improvement in just a week or more. Most street animals suffer from some type of anemia, so products, such as multiple dog vitamins are on the "Wish list."

I was on the street for several months. Somehow I got separated from my family. I had no idea how to eat off the street so
I got very thin. Some of the spoiled food
I ate made me sick. I was so weak I couldn't walk and had to be carried to the shelter. I have a new home now, a family that really loves me, and my life is getting better every day.

As always, Silvia has dogs that are ready for adoption now. She also has 8 puppies, 3 of which lost their mother and 5 littermates in a house fire here in Manzanillo. The 3 survivors are doing very well, and soon will be ready for sterilization and a new home.

It was decided to postpone further sterilizations until the dogs could get stronger and be in better health. In one earlier surgery the doctors performed, they removed 3 rocks from the animal's stomach, which were preventing her from eating. The doctors supposed the rocks were accidentally ingested while the animal was picking through garbage thrown on the ground.

Silvia has been in her own battle--cancer, and is currently going without her chemotherapy drugs in order to help more animals. She has been a member of our community for a long time, and I have worked with her in PATA sterilization clinics, and I know of her love for all animals. Her son and husband also support her in the shelter, and all help of any kind would be appreciated. Saturday is bath day for the dogs, a weekly regimen with special soap to rid them of skin mites (mange), so common here. Volunteer!

When I was picked up off the street a couple of months ago I was almost bald from the skin parasites. They would make me itch so much that I would bite myself, making open sores. Then the sores got infected and I was in a lot of pain. You can see I'm much better now and all I need is a new home. I am very friendly, and I love children who are nice to me.

The new organization has these immediate needs. U.A.M. is having a raffle on the radio stations this weekend to raise funds. If you have any items you'd like to donate to be raffled off at the next fundraiser, or medicine, or money, call Silvia at 334-3780. E-mail Silvia at

Remember adopting a pet is saving a life. Animals can't ask for your help, but we can. U.A.M. does not have a web site yet (any web designers out there who'd like to contribute one?), but give Mia or Silvia a call and let them know you'd like to shake paws or claws with someone who sounds like the friend you're looking for! For specific questions regarding surgical donations, please call Dr. Ruelas at (Colima) cellular 045-312-318-8538; 312-313-0807; or 312-330-5040. The doctor speaks English and the best time to reach him is after 4 p.m. because he is usually in surgery during the day. Dr. Ruelas is very interested in helping the animals and working with lower income families to take better care of their pets.

Directions to U.A.M. shelter: Take the lateral to Hotel Plaza (across the street from Amutio in the Plaza Manzanillo mall where the Comerical Mexicana supermarket is). Turn right on Calle Pedro Salazar and go up 7 blocks to the park. Turn right on the first street by the park (Villa Seņor Valle) and go 1 block to #27. If transportation is a problem, you can take a bus or taxi to the hotel, and Silvia or Ligget will meet you there and escort you. It can also be arranged to pick up donated items at your home or hotel, but Silvia welcomes everyone who would like to see what is being done and how the animals are treated.