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.
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That organization has been dissolved in the past few days and has been replaced by a new organization with a new Board of Directors.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.