Saving a Momma and her pups

Saving a momma and her pups

Team effort gets stray dog and her nine pups off the streets

Rescuing an injured, sick or distressed dog usually starts with a call to action through our CAWS Board Facebook Messenger and that’s just what happened this past Thursday. 

“Ok everyone…The brown female dog that hangs out outside Dibary on Burns has had a big litter of babies under St. Andrews’ church steps. There are 8 of them. The reverend there is very nice and an animal lover so they are safe but not for long. We have funds to assist but not foster homes. What do we want to do?”

The answer, of course,  was “Save them.”  

CAWS put out an alert on the Cayo Animal Welfare Society Facebook page, asking for help in finding a foster home, not just for one puppy or two, but for momma and her entire litter. 

The momma, later named Lizzie after the pastor of the church, is one in a small pack of dogs that roam around the downtown Burns Ave. “mall” area in San Ignacio, attracted to the scraps and garbage from the many nearby restaurants. We learned that a very kind homeless man, Steven Lopez, had been helping this momma and her helpless pups, changing the cardboard under the stairs every three days and finding scraps of food for her despite his own hardships. CAWS brought food for Mr. Lopez to feed Lizzie while searching for a foster home.

“This is no place for these babies,” said the post. “The few that survive will grow up to have the same hard life as their momma, and that is heartbreaking.”

The pups are far too young to be away from momma just yet and need her TLC as well as monitoring, vaccines and eventually, spay and neuter services, all of which are paid for through  generous donations  to CAWS from animal lovers in Belize, the US and Canada. Because CAWS, an all-volunteer humane society,  does not have a shelter, we rely on qualified foster families to step up and help. 

That foster family, one that could take them all,  was found in just one day. Marge and Tom Gallagher, past CAWS fosters, had the space and the TLC needed to take them all.

But first, we had to round them up.

CAWS President Shauna Morelli, the Gallaghers, Mr. Lopez and a few more good samaritans wrangled the pups.

“We got the six baby girls and three baby boys,” said Shauna. ” We found seven initially but something made us check one more time in another spot and we found two more a distance away. One baby girl is small and weak but our amazing fosters will do their best for her. “

Getting the Momma proved to be a bit more difficult. 

“Momma was scared and did not want to cooperate, ” said Shauna. “Without the help of the kind man who has been caring for them, Steven Lopez, we would not have been able to get her. He arrived at the site with a bucket. It had milk in it and some of his things. Momma dog ran and he chased her all through the market and back to the church, then crawled under the steps to leash her and carried her to the crate. She panicked and squashed some of the puppies so he pulled them out and we put them in another crate.”


CAWS left Mr. Lopez with some funds to help him as well as dog food so he can continue to feed downtown dogs. Other generous people following the story donated funds to Mr. Lopez as well.


Settling into a new, safe home


Lizzie and her pups made it safely to their new home and into a large, warm enclosure where they can be monitored. One little pup was a concern, however.


“The little girl we’re worried about was getting trampled when mom and babies were reunited because she just wasn’t moving, so since we’ve been home she has been riding around in my bra and getting milk replacement supplement. She is already warmer and more active,” said Marge.

The runt of the litter, the pup later wandered away and had to be warmed up with a hot water bottle. Sadly, she passed away today, but her final days were filled with food, warmth and love.

As for Lizzie, Marge said that she’s slowly getting used to the fact that she’s safe.


“This momma dog is breaking my heart.  Her eyes are already getting softer, but she acts as though she just can’t believe she can just stay in a warm dry place and take care of her puppies, and that she doesn’t have to go out and forage and fight for food,” said Marge.


“I’ve taken food to her a couple of times, and she will be out walking around the edge of the cage as though she is guarding something or looking for something.  When she sees me with the food, she looks for the shortest path back to her puppies, but then seems torn because she recognizes that I’m carrying food.  When I put the food down, she looks around to see who might be coming to take it from her, and her indecision about whether to protect her pups or eat the food before someone else gets it is heartbreakingly obvious.”


Still, Marge said that Lizzie is already starting to trust her and now pricks her ears up and slowly wags her tail when she sees her coming, although she’s not quite sure she’s safe…yet.

When healthy enough, the pups and Lizzie will be dewormed, vaccinated, and when old enough, spayed and neutered to end the cycle of litter after litter of unwanted pups. Lizzie, too, will be spayed and all will go to safe, loving homes. In the meantime, because they were born under that church, the pups will all be named after Saints , including the little pup who passed today. We named her Ava.


If you would like to sponsor a puppy’s care, the cost is about $200 BZ total for vaccines, spay/neuter, food when they are weaned and medication for flea and tick prevention. So far we have received $650BZ and need just $1400 BZ more to cover everything, including Lizzie’s care. Your generous donations help us support the foster families by funding all of those needs and get the pups ready for adoption when that time comes. Please support our work any way you can by donating here. You can also contact us through our Facebook page or email us at



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