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Thanks for Everything, Andy

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 6, 2011

For the last several years, our friend Andy MacDonald has operated the Peanut Pet Shelter, an animal rescue organization that he and his then wife Jen founded here in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

Andy MacDonald

Our friend Andy MacDonald

That organization has been dissolved in the past few days and has been replaced by a new organization with a new Board of Directors. Andy will not be part of that new organization. We will make a statement regarding that circumstance sometime in the near future. But for now we want to simply say thank you to Andy MacDonald for his years of work and service to the Playa del Carmen community.

We met Andy and Jen when they first visited Playa and decided to move here and open a restaurant. Like many Playa dreams, that went by the wayside. But rather than giving up and going back home to England, they decided to stay and fill a need they saw here. They opened a shelter for homeless dogs.

Nowadays there are many different organizations concerned with animals in the Riviera Maya. Some are local, some are in other countries but have a focus here, some are just individuals, and some are large groups. But back in the days when Andy & Jen started the Peanut Pet Shelter, Playa del Carmen had no abundance of people helping stray animals–only an abundance of stray animals. The local city pound killed strays that were caught, often in a cruel manner, and those that weren’t killed were housed in inhumane conditions. Those left to run on the streets were little better off. Playa was full of stray dogs who were diseased, malnourished, injured and forgotten.

Andy and Jen opened their own home and began to house these animals. Andy would go out and rescue abandoned or stray dogs. The dogs would be cleaned, fed, housed and then offered for adoption. Over the years literally thousands of animals have had their lives saved by Andy MacDonald.

Fundraisers, auctions and corporate sponsorships are now commonplace among the organizations that operate animal shelters in the Mayan Riviera. However when Andy and Jen started the Pet Shelter many years ago, there was no established fundraising base. They had to go begging hat in hand. They were the ones that first made people aware and first made people care. A lot of people and organizations today are reaping the benefits of that work.

Eventually the Pet Shelter became popular among locals, tourists and the internet community which focuses on Playa. Many people worked long and hard for the Peanut Pet Shelter. People gave time and money and volunteered for difficult, unpleasant and often unrecognized work. Playa is a better place for everything this special group of people did. However during all those years, the one constant of the Peanut Pet Shelter was Andy MacDonald. Much of the work of capturing, caring for, housing, feeding and cleaning these animals was done by Andy.

We have seen Andy lying in the mud for hours trying to coax an injured dog out from its hiding place. We ourselves have called him at all hours of the day and night to ask if he might go after an injured or stray dog we had observed.

His home has always been filled with these dogs. He has at times lived among over 100 dogs which required constant feeding, care, and of course cleaning up after. We have marveled at his dedication.

The Peanut Pet Shelter eventually became a nonprofit organization, and Andy received a minimal salary as Director. And when we say minimal, that’s exactly what we mean. We know Andy had little money for luxuries, and what he did have he would spend on the dogs before he spent it on himself.

Unfortunately, good deeds are not always justly rewarded. Playa del Carmen, like any small town, has jealousies and petty vendettas. Andy was all too often the focus of such unfair animosity. At the same time, because he was the public face of the Peanut Pet Shelter, he became somewhat of a local celebrity both in Playa and in the virtual world. Andy’s personal life was scrutinized and criticized by people who wanted him to be a saint, to be perfect or to simply meet the image they wanted. Seemed like everyone wanted to tell him how to do his job and how to live his life. He was attacked for getting divorced. He was attacked for getting remarried. He was attacked every time he tried to go on vacation or order a beer at a local bar.

Andy isn’t perfect. But then again, who of us is? What we do know is that he gave selflessly of his time and energy for years and years with too little praise and too little compensation.

Now that Andy is no longer going to be operating a pet shelter in Playa del Carmen, it would seem appropriate that he finally receive some proper recognition and appreciation. We would like to be among the first to simply say thank you to Andy. We have in our lives two former street dogs–Gypsy and Roxie–that we would not have but for Andy’s work at the Peanut Pet Shelter. There are a lot of former strays that have found happy homes with families here in Playa and throughout North America as result of the hard work of the Peanut Pet Shelter, its volunteers, and most of all Andy MacDonald.

We would therefore ask those who know Andy, who have been part of the puppy washes, the fundraisers, the cleanups or the rescues to join us in offering our gratitude to Andy by leaving comments on this blog.

Andy, we are proud to call you our friend and are grateful as members of this community for everything you have done for Playa. We wish you the best of luck in your new marriage and life, and you will always be part of the Luna Blue family. You leave Playa a better place than you found it.

41 Responses to “Thanks for Everything, Andy”

  1. Tom Reed said

    All animals need lot’sof love…

  2. Thank you Tony and Cheri, well said. I know my Texas counterparts will chime in here as well, but I’d like to say that whenever we come to Playa, we looked forward to seeing Andy. It was not only a vacation for us, but a chance to visit those that we considered friends. Each one one of us would literally give the shirts off our back to him. Cliche, I know, but fitting. Just know that you have lifelong friends in Texas Andy. It’s kind of sad that we’ll be missing that part of Playa in the future.

    We hope see you in a couple of weeks,

    Roger

  3. Tj Mundell said

    I haven’t met Andy in person yet, but I will on his last days in Playa… He is one of the big reasons (other than LB!) that my family continues to visit Playa every couple of months…. I have heard nothing but Beautiful, Pure, and Wonderful things about what was Peanut Pet Shelter…. I feel for the animals, for I know intuitively they will not receive the love they did with Andy…. And I am honored to be able to meet him in person before he leaves… The animals will miss him…. We will miss him…. and damnit I have to figure out a new calendar to put on my wall for 2012 :-( :-( :-(

    Andy, You didn’t deserve this, but I know you’ll make the best of it and find love and light in your new life…

    The Mayan Prophecy states that now is the time of New Beginnings… there’s going to be some really lucky puppies where you’re going :)

    Love and Light, Always…

    TJ & Timmy

  4. MikeenJulie said

    Well said T&C

  5. Bren & Dave said

    Tony & Cheri…What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man…we are proud to call Andy our friend …we are proud of the work he has done to make the live of many many homeless animals better…he will be missed but we wish him and Penny a happy wonderful future wherever that may take them.

  6. Penny Macdonald said

    Even before I knew Andy very well, I had great respect & admiration for what he was doing for the strays of Playa. Andy has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. There isn’t a mean bone in his body & yes, this is part of the reason I fell in love with him. His dedication to these dogs, all dogs, was amazing. He sacrificed in his life for the animals. They always came first. There will always be people who criticize but none of them have spent even one day in his shoes. Not many people in this world would do what was needed for all these animals. He deserves credit for all he’s done. You will always have my respect, admiration & love.
    Penny xo

  7. Jan S. said

    Thanks for everything, Andy. You deserve all the good things in life and I wish you nothing but the best. There are several animals out there that remember your kindness – Tilly, Pedro and Pino. If it wasn’t for you and Jen, we wouldn’t have them. Know that you’ve made a huge difference.

  8. Thank you Tony & Cheri for taking the time to tell it like it is. Andy has done an incredible thing for Playa in helping these poor animals. We’ve seen it “up close and personal” since the beginning. Andy is one of the most giving people we know. Sure there were plenty of rough times but the bottom line was always about the animals and what was best for them. Thanks for being such a friend Andy and we wish you & Penny all the best in your new life together. We would also like to thank all the “behind the scenes” people in these humble efforts to help the animals. We know who you are, Friends !
    Barry & Phyllis

  9. Heather G Jones said

    We had vacationed in PDC several times, but had never really interacted with locals………until 2005 when I decided to stay for several months. Among the first people I met were Andy and Jen, and I eventually started going to the doggie washes. The time shared with Doggiemom, Nikki, Gary, Rick, Ciaron, Roz and lots of others whose names escape me right now, was priceless. I’ve been a bit lax about keeping in touch with all these people and have lost track of the situation at PPS. I don’t know what has happened there, but I believe this……………..Andy founded, begged, cajoled, and did everything he could to keep the animals fed and healthy, and did a good job. There have been issues in the past. Someone was constantly getting their panties in a twist because they felt that someone else was getting too much attention, or praise for something they had done. Although not admirable, at least understandable and probably human nature to a great extent.
    I wish for success for the new organization, but I hope they ( all involved ) know that it won’t ever be a bed of roses. I sincerely doubt that anyone knows everything that Andy has had to contend with.
    There’s a special heaven for folks like Andy, who give so much of themselves to whatever cause they believe in, and Andy has earned a very, very special spot in that heaven.
    God bless you Andy, you have always and will always make this auld Scot very proud wherever you go and whatever you do.

    Slainte

    Heather Gornall Jones

  10. Steve & Mado said

    Thank you Andy. Our lives are so much richer with sweet Polly. She would not have survived without you. Best wishes.

  11. Andy said

    Thank you Tony and thank you everyone for your kind comments.
    I did what i did for the love of the animals, to try and save as many as i possibly could, the animals of the area still need the help of the wonderful generous people who have continued to give aid over the years, the new shelter will still need that help so as to continue helping as many as they possibly can.
    Thank you all
    Andy

  12. JEZ said

    Andy is a total star, all of the Peanut people are… Andy did what no one else has either could or would do for the dogs. Thank you Andy.

    JEZ

  13. sharon horrigan said

    I’m so sorry to hear about Andy. I remember the first time I met him. Being the animal lover that I am I had great respect for him. I hope he took a couple of his favorite dogs with him. Thanks Andy! And thanks Tony and Cheri for keeping everyone informed.Sharon Horrigan

  14. Byron said

    Toni and Cheri, thank you for writing these words about Andy. The first time my wife and I met Andy was a few years ago at Bad Boys (bar) on our very first visit to Playa. He was selling tickets for a 50/50 draw with the proceeds going to help improve the lives of the dogs already under his care. He not only took the time to chat and to tell us about the work of the Peanut Pet Shelter but also made a point of introducing us to Jen. Since then, every time our paths have crossed he has greeted us with a smile, a nod and at least a few kind words. A couple of years after our first meeting we were privileged to spend a day at the PPS’s dog wash. I remember Andy arriving from the airport part way through the wash. He had been sending a dog off to a new home. I think every single dog at the shelter wanted to greet him at the gate and each waited for him to greet them. It was only after spending time with the dogs that he made a point of meeting all of the people. The dogs came first. For us, Andy has been a part of the fabric of Playa Del Carmen for as long as we have been visiting. We will miss crossing paths with him. I certainly wish him and Penny the very best. It is well deserved.

  15. LucyE said

    I am truly saddened to hear that once again rumors are circulating. I had the privilege of meeting Andy and Jen back in 2008, my first time to Playa. I have helped PPS in any way that I could thanks in part to Andy. I saw the love and dedication first hand and because of that I’ve wanted to help. Thank you Andy for all that you have done. You are truly an inspiration to me. I feel very sad knowing that you will not be in Playa when we visit. You were truly one of the reasons I fell in love with Playa. I wish you and Penny nothing but the best. Love you guys!

  16. Kristi Snider said

    Congratulations to Andy for saving so many of Playa’s animals. I can’t imagine what would have become of them if Andy had not been there for them. Andy, you should be very proud of the work you’ve done. Hats off to you!!

  17. LucyE said

    We first met Andy back in 2008 on our first visit to Playa. I have been a proud supporter of PPS since then. I feel greatful to have met someone as special as him. I’m so sorry to hear that I will no longer see him during our visits to Playa. He was one of the highlights of our vacations. I saw firsthand the love and dedication he had for those animals, and because of him, I decided to help out and do as much as I can. He has been my inspiration and I feel blessed to call him my friend. I wish you and Penny nothing but the best, and with tears in my eyes I am truly sorry that you are leaving Playa. Hopefully you two will come back and vacation from time to time… just let me know when so we can plan on being there at the same time. Love you guys!!

  18. sharon said

    Andy, Your wonderful smile and kind heart will be so missed when we visit Playa next. Bruce and I wish you all the best in whatever your next passion will be! Know you will be thought of every time we visit Playa!

  19. Debbie said

    Thank you Andy for all of your hard work and dedication. My family and I had the pleasure of coming to a dog wash at your house in 2008. We still talk about our amazing afternoon with all of the pups. I wish you load of good wishes.

  20. Marj said

    Andy what can I say that hasn’t already been said? I remember when we first visited Playa in 2005, that there were many homeless animals roaming the streets. Today there is a very noticable difference. This is due to you and the others who took time to make a difference. You will be missed. Hopefully you will continue to visit Playa and we will get to see you and Penny again. Good luck in your future endevores Andy and thank you for all you have done for the dogs.

  21. Brent & Kathleen said

    Well written Tony . Good luck Andy and good luck to new the new organization.

  22. Ana Rawa said

    I have goose bumps! Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful story about PPS and Andy. We have supported PPS for many years and are greatful for all of the efforts Andy has put forth. Hey, what are we going to do in Playa on Saturdays now? Peace and love to Andy and this next chapter of his life. Fondly, Ana from Michigan

  23. janetlowe said

    Freddie, our blind 14 year old Cocker Spaniel, was rescued by Andy. Jim washed him at one of the Saturday sessions and watched him promptly roll in the dirt. At that moment he knew the dog was his. Many hours have been spent helping the Peanut Pet Shelter and not a one is regretted. We thank Andy for his devotion and care and Freddie thanks him also.

  24. Cathy Kumpf said

    Thank you Andy for our beautiful dog, Chica, who probably would not have survived without you rescuing her. We know she rescued us!!! Best of luck for you and Penny in your future.

  25. Judi said

    Thank you Tony/Cheri for a wonderful commentary on Peanut Pet Shelter and Andy.

    I agree with all of your sentiments. Andy started something no one else had the time or energy or dedication to do and that was grow an organization to help the street animals. He grew a grass roots idea to an organization that is now ready to move to different levels. Andy is a very special unique and caring individual who deserves many kudos. He has touched the lives of many people and animals in a good way.

    I wish him and his new wife well in this next big adventure they embark on. I also want to offer my continued support and involvement to PPS going forward or whatever it shall be named.
    Judi

  26. Kasey Doshier said

    Andy,
    Meeting you (and Jen/Adam/Gary/Sue) and my experience at the Peanut Pet Shelter on Dog Wash Day was the highlight of my trip to Playa two years ago, and my time spent there is what I most cherish most and remember most often of my time spent on that vacation.
    More than that, my experience with PPS really opened my eyes to the true meaning of giving and volunteering, and looking back on it now I can say honestly that it was the springboard to me beginning to volunteer and fundraise here at home with a cause I care about. Your spirit of truly selfless giving was an inspiration to me and it made a bigger impact than you know. Thank you for opening my heart and my eyes in this way.
    I wish you mucho mucho happiness in your new adventures in love and life! You deserve it!

    Team Andy all the way,
    xo
    Kasey Doshier

  27. Susan said

    I personally know there are many happy animals and owners as a result of Andy and PPS. Thank you Andy, Jen, and PPS for your years of dedication to the animals of PDC.

    Susan G.

  28. Tim Williams said

    Thank you Tony and Cheri! Andy was a gem in Playa and I for one am proud to call him a friend. He deserves to be treated with the respect deserved for his years of selfless acts to help the animals of Playa.

  29. We like you from the first time we met you Andy. Best of luck in all your endeavors and dreams :) Remember the shelter at it’s best, not it’s worst. You owe that to yourself, and the dogs :)

    Bekke, Vanessa and Linnea von Hessert

    PDC Residents and fans of Andy and the PPS

  30. Kim and Kenny said

    What a wonderful tribute to Andy you wrote, Tony and Cheri. It makes me sad to know that Andy won’t be there to help and comfort the dogs anymore and I’m sure they will miss him too, but I am so happy for you Andy to be starting a wonderful new life. We wish you the best in life. There’s a saying I’ve been hearing that Steve Jobs used. It goes something like this:

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

    Powerful stuff, huh?

    Thank you Andy for helping all the animals that had no voice. Thank you for easing the suffering of so many. And thank you for sacrificing of yourself for the sake of them.
    Love from Kim and Kenny

  31. Claudia said

    Thank you so very much Andy for all your hard work, for rescuing Sky among all those others that are now part of our families, and made us come together for a good purpose. Muchas gracias Amigo, todo lo que haces en esta vida regresa, con creces todo y tu vas a recibir muchas cosas buenas siempre =)
    Claudia

  32. Connie said

    Well, I’ve tried too many times to write something awesome and eloquent….

    Thank you, Andy. You’re a rock star!

    Thank you Tony and Cheri. Also rock stars!

    (Hitting “send” now before I start crying again)

  33. leslie austin said

    Andy I met you at Bad Boys several years ago, on my first visit to Playa. I have always felt that you were not only a friend to all those loving animals, but a friend to me. It is bitter sweet to see you go. Those of us that love you are excited for your new future in Canada. Are you sure you are ready for the cold up there? Well perhaps our paths will cross again. But for now, we will miss you and hope the best for you in the future. Thanks for being a great human being!

  34. I never got to meet Andy in person nor Jen as things in our lives never worked as planned. But I feel I got to know alot of the PPS gang thru webcasts etc.
    God has other plans and another door has opened for Andy and he will have a new life in the frozen north with a new family and circle of friends.
    I bet there will be animals in need of rescue there too. People like Andy are rescuers for life.
    I wish all the best and much love and happiness and peace.
    The animals of Playa -well hopefully God will protect them as this new chapter unfolds.
    God Bless all.

  35. annarosita said

    Thank you Andy for giving me my Rosie and my Finn…I wish you all the best and take care!

  36. Gynn'AK restaurant, Akumal said

    you rock andy!!!! come get your lionfish tacos at Gynn’AK!!!

  37. We began our annual trips to Playa in 2006. Along the way we learned about Andy and the work he was doing and we came to include the Peanut Pet Shelter in our visits. The work and the interaction significantly enriched our time spent in an area we love. Most of us want to make a difference but he didn’t just talk the talk…he walked the walk and made things happen. He’s a hero in our eyes. Good luck and God bless, Andy.

    Fondly,
    George & Joan Lundberg

  38. Bev said

    What a wonderful blog post to a wonderful caring man! I have followed the success of the shelter for many years and always felt I was the luckiest person to be able to spend some of my vacation time at the dog washes on several occasions.

    I was always very impressed how you were able to rise above the negativity Andy. Well done you for all you accomplished in Playa! you will be missed on my next visit to Playa. Welcome to Canada! and Congratulations to you and Penny!

  39. Jeffrey Possum said

    What a fine thing this man did. Ive been visiting Playa twice a year for the last six years or so (just got back home this Wed.) , and I can tell you that there were A LOT more stray dogs wandering about when I first started visiting Playa. Cats too. It was always heartbreaking. Whatever happened, or was said and done in a negative manner twoards this helper to Gods creatures who have no voice doesnt really count at all when compared to what good he did indeed do, and this IS what counts. What REALLY counts. I think of this accomplishment in an area that to some if not most would seem impossible and all I can hope is that the good works will somehow continue- because every time Im walking down 5th ave in the sweltering heat and I see the woman with the tiny little puppies I get a chill. God bless you Sir.

  40. Kathy.Webb said

    With Andy, it was all about the dogs. Thank you Andy, for making a difference. Thank you Tony and Cheri, for your eloquent and always informative public posts. Love you all.

  41. aNDY said

    Again i have to say thank you all for your kind words :)

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