photo by: Jennifer Waters

Hey guys!

You’re in for a fun and super cool personal post today.  And if you like animals, you’re really going to love this one. Early this past January while photographing and attending a business retreat in México (more about that in an upcoming post), I had the fortune to join Mindy Dutka with her wonderful organization, Dogs I Meet, on one of their awesome Mission Trips to help give voices to animal shelter abroad. Many of the incredible organizations they visit are overcapacity and run on minimal funding with limited staff and zero praise. Mindy created these fantastic Mission Trips with the idea of connecting top animal photographers and powerful advocates with these neglected shelters and the people who run them in order to tell their stories. These shelters often have limited social visibility and by donating our photography services and our voices, the hope is that more people will get to learn about the tireless work that is happening not only abroad, but also within local communities. The goal of Dogs I Meet’s Mission Trips are that once complete, the rescue organizations visited will have professional photography they can use to tell their story, gain awareness, and raise funds to continue their daily life-changing work.

For this mission in January, myself and 7 others visited Coco’s Animal Welfare and S.O.S el Arca in Playa del Carmen to get to know the staff, photograph the animals in their care, and let’s be honest, do a lot of rolling in the dirt and snuggling. On top of donating out photography and voices, the organization also makes a monetary donation to each shelter visited, because, well, that’s what keeps the lights on and the water running. I had such a great time not only photographing these animals and their caregivers, but also hanging out with other photographers and advocates on the trip with me. There’s just something so wonderful about being around others who share your love of animals, traveling, photography and giving back. I seriously can’t give enough praise about the wonderful nature of this trip and I’m so excited to hear where they’re off to next!

If a mission trip like this sounds like something you’d be interested in learning more about, please head over to Dogs I Meet to learn more. See my images from our mission trip and learn more about each of the different shelters we visited below. xx, Amy

About Coco’s Animal Welfare: “Since Laura was a young girl she was helping her dad in farming and started rescuing all kinds of animals from bats to dogs, cats and even bottle feeding goats and lambs. One of the rescued cats was Igor who had only one eye after an attack by a crow. He is still a much loved family pet back home in Wales. After moving to Mexico, Laura’s cat Coco was run over, as many of the drivers in Mexico see cats as a pest and make no attempt to avoid them if they see them on the road. Laura decided she wanted to help address the problem of too many stray cats-which leads them to be cruelly treated. Also working on reducing the population, Laura began a spay and neuter clinic working with Kelley Anthony and the veterinarian Claudia Lewy spaying and neutering feral cats, rescued kittens and pets whose owners simply couldn`t afford to sterilize their cats. Laura realized more needed to be done and asked for support from more vets. Before long, seven different vets in Playa were volunteering in the spay/neuter program for cats organized by Laura. As the support grew for the project Laura began to meet many other dedicated volunteers and saw the need and opportunity for something bigger. Therefore in dedication to Coco, Coco’s Cat Rescue was created.”  Click HERE to donate to Coco’s Animal Welfare.

About SOS el Arca: SOS el Arca is a non-profit, no-kill dog shelter. It is completely privately funded, with no government financial support. We rescue and rehabilitate dogs from the street and local dog pound, where they catch and kill dogs in three days. Our main objective is to rescue and give adoption to good homes dogs that have been abandoned, wounded abused, etc. In 2011 our president Sylvie Goetz, decided to take the responsibility of adopting a dog and went directly to the local pound. The conditions were terrible, the dogs didn’t have any food or water, they died of hunger, dehydration and many other horrible ways. She left there with her skinny dog, for many days she carefully cared for him. And after he was well she decided to help all the dogs that were locked up any way she could. She brought them food, published their pictures and found homes for over 80 of them in the first 3 months. Taking care of over 100 dogs was a huge Job and so were the costs, for that reason SOS was born. At first one of the goals of SOS was to work with the local church and create a orphanage for kids and give each child a dog as well as work with zoo therapy with the rescued dogs but due to the amount of dogs in need of desperate help it was necessary to put off those plans for a while and become only a no kill shelter for dogs. Our Mission is to help and save as many dogs as possible from, abuse, abandonment, hunger, etc. By rehabilitating and taking care of them as long as necessary until finding a loving permanent home.” Click HERE to donate to S.O.S el Arca.