Rosemary Gordon was ready to leave Peru, but, as she was leaving after a visit, she spotted a dog suffering from distemper and decided to stay and save him, eventually rescuing more animals and creating an animal shelter. Born in Perú and raised in South Africa, Rosemary would visit a cousin of hers in Colán, on the northern coast of Perú. After 12 years of visits, she decided to buy a small piece of land and build a room. That room eventually became a house, which eventually morphed into a sanctuary for the abandoned animals of Colán.
Rosemary Gordon is proof that one person can make a difference.
Dave, Sora, and I spent two weeks volunteering with Rosemary at her sanctuary in Colán. In a blog post to follow, I will talk more about our experience volunteering. This post however, is dedicated to the woman behind the sanctuary.
Rosemary started Asocicasión Humanitaria San Fransisco de Asis (AHSFA) in 1998. For nearly 30 years, she has dedicated her life to the animals of Colán and the neighboring cities. For nearly 30 years she has worked to demonstrate how to love an animal, to a community to views animals as trash, nuisances, and worthless beings. For nearly 30 years, she has educated the community that spay and neuter and proper veterinary care are essential to their pet’s health and to controlling the pet population. For nearly 30 years, she has fought uphill battles in order to convince people that animals matter. She has stopped horrendous acts of violence towards animals, punished in unthinkable ways for stealing food or killing chickens. For nearly 30 years, Rosemary has been the voice of the animals, her passion driving her day after day in a place where no one shares her view and constantly questions her faith in humanity.
China, Before & After. Rosemary had adopted China out to a home she thought she could trust when she was a puppy. She would always come by and say hello to Rosemary, until one day she stopped showing up. Rosemary went in search of her and found her covered in fleas, ticks, and mange.
The lack of education and awareness, coupled with the expense at caring for an animal results in a high degree of neglect and abuse for domestic animals in poor communities like Colán. Transportation logistics and ignorance in what a healthy animal should look like contribute to the mistreatment and care for animals.
In an effort to educate her community about proper care and treatment of animals, Rosemary provides educational programs in neighboring communities, directed at school children and their teachers, mobile veterinary clinics to small towns and rural villages, and runs a spay and neuter clinic at her shelter twice weekly.
Princesa, Before & After. Rosemary picked up Princesa when she visited the owner’s home. The woman begged her to take Princesa, as they didn’t want her anymore. She has recently had puppies, all of whom had died. Princesa was covered in ticks with matted fur. A bath and haircut revealed how thin she was – her back bones were raw flesh. She was under one year old.
Together, with her veterinary team, Ingrid and Marina, she has spayed and neutered an estimated 24,000 animals and has welcomed hundreds into her home, which she has built with the animals in mind. Strategically-placed baskets lined with blankets house napping cats and dogs. Cats roam in and out of the massive kennels, cleaned on a daily basis to explore the yard and saunter across the roof. Gates separate cats from dogs, sick from healthy, and turtles from everyone else. A beautiful recycled tile path lines the property guiding the way to the various sections of the property. Currently, Rosemary cares for over 40 cats, including a colony of feral cats at a separate property nearby, and six dogs.
At 73 years old, Rosemary is winding down and has been refusing animals more and more frequently, yet she’ll still get an occasional puppy dropped over the fence. Yet, she can’t bring herself to turn down adding to the feral cats when she learns that someone will poison or throw away their cats in the trash.
The care for all these animals is incredibly expensive. She relies on donations and a grant from the Brigette Bardot Foundation, which for years has covered the cost of the spay and neuter clinic. Rosemary has no one to take her place once she can no longer care for the animals.
To help support and continue her efforts, please consider making a donation to the Asociación Humanitaria San Fransisco de Asis, via PayPal. And to follow along and get to know some of the animals she cares for, follow AHSFA on Facebook.