Man shelters 300 dogs from Hurricane Delta in Mexico home

Ricardo Pimentel plays with a few of the dogs he sheltered at his home in Leona Vicario, Mexico, during Hurricane Delta.

LEONA VICARIO, Mexico (AP) — As the dangerous Hurricane Delta closed in on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Ricardo Pimentel opened his home — to about 300 dogs.

There were plenty of other critters too: Dozens of cats were harbored in his son’s room; his daughter’s room served as a refuge for chicks, bunnies and even a hedgehog; a patio became a haven for a flock of sheep.

Not surprisingly, the house smelled terrible, he says. But it was worth it: All survived the storm.

“It doesn’t matter if the house is dirty, it can be cleaned,” he says. “The things they broke can be fixed or bought again, but what’s beautiful is to see them happy, healthy and safe, without wounds and with the possibility of being adopted.”

It all started with an Oct. 6 social media post. Pimentel told friends he had cut branches and boarded up windows at the Tierra de Animales (Land of Animals) shelter he founded nearly a decade ago about 20 miles southwest of Cancun, where he also lives with his family.

A subsequent online post included photos of what looked like a carpet in his hallway. A closer look revealed that the carpet was alive — many, many dogs, crowded together. The post was shared widely on social media and grabbed headlines across the globe.

Pimentel was so busy in the midst of the storm — the hurricane downed trees, knocked out power and prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents and tourists along the Yucatan Peninsula’s resort coast — he was unaware the post had gone viral.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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