She is the Tippi Hedren of Puerto Vallarta.
As proprietor of Hacienda San Angel, Janice Chatterton hosts guests where some marry and/or honeymoon. She provides all the privacy you need in beauty and splendor. (Recent guests include The Bachelor’s Ben and Courtney, as well as VP Joe Biden.) But the humanitarian runs the hotel to help support her animal interest. Her focus is to find good homes (for the animals) in the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Mexico.
“As a child I lived on a farm and had many cats.” The first snafu: She developed a severe allergy to them, so her parents pulled the plug on pets. She raised her own family with rescue dogs.
“When I first came to Puerto Vallarta I was struck by the plight of the street dogs,” Janice says. “I rescued some, but their suffering was insurmountable. When I moved here full time (1980) to open the hotel, I joined new friends at the local pound.”
But the pound was formed just to clean up the streets with little concern about the animals’ welfare. When Janice got wind of the fact that they did not always have food/water and most were executed, she made a decision to open a shelter. Some colleagues thought it would be impossible. Not Janice!
Cut to 2007 when the SPCA de PV was born. It was a humble start with a small casita and big back yard. Animals from the pound were vaccinated, sterilized, and provided medical needs before adoption. The SPCA de PV held fundraisers because Janice’s goal was to buy property for an official shelter. It took three years before finding something that met all the criteria.
After a fundraiser in 2010, six workers were hired. “We got a nice donation from a lovely couple who came to PV to buy a timeshare, saw the street animals, and decided to donate that money towards animal’s causes instead.” With hotel restaurant guest donations, a 10,000 sq. ft project was completed.
“In the three months since we opened we have taken in 110 dogs. Because the cattery section was late in being finished, we only had 30 cats. A couple from the U.S. was so impressed; they made a donation to make the property 60% larger.
“I love animals and have a difficult time seeing them in cages.”
Her shelter differs from most. All the dogs have spacious rooms that they share with one or more friends. They have an inside room that is sheltered and a yard with grass. There are two large garden areas where they play during the day, in addition to being walked. The cats also have spacious rooms and lots of cubby holes to hide and play in. “I’ve planted trees in the outside areas of their rooms so they will have a more natural atmosphere.”
There’s Adoption Saturdays at the Biblioteca Los Mangos and the local farmer’s market. In addition, social media is playing a role in adoption on Facebook, as well as a weekly newsletter.
“We have a well-equipped examination and surgery room so we can do most of our medical on site.”
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury brand. Her works appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, on broadcasts and the web.