One Woman’s Cause

One Woman’s Cause
July 31, 2009 Lainie Liberti

A reason for pause (or paws)

Today was our last day on Caye Caulker and we’re very sad. We love it here so much, thinking this is one of our favorite places, but we’ve got much to see and unfortunately, we are a schedule. I actually look forward to traveling in September when we don’t have the same time restrictions, but for now, this is the reality.

We’ve been staying at an animal rescue, the little beach cabanas and over the last five days, we’ve gotten to know and adore Madi, the woman who runs it. Today we spent helping her out in the rescue, with the kitties. She has 76 cats, 4 dogs and 1 duck named Melody.

Today I spent helping Madi hose down the cat areas, wash away the pee and clean up the litter boxes. This took me close to an hour to do, and I only took care of two of the large cat living areas. Madi does this every day, and most of the time, on her own. I’m amazed at this woman’s passion for animals and has selflessly dedicated her life to the cause.

P.A.W. Cat Sanctuary & Humane Society is a non-profit organization which has been in operation since 2003.

This is from her website, which explains more about what she does:

P.A.W. provides food, shelter, sterilization procedures and medical care to homeless cats. Our sanctuary haven supplies all the basic needs, coupled with lots of love and personal attention to each of our residents.

In addition to attending to the needs of the animals, P.A.W. was also founded to establish educational programs for children and the public, in order to promote humane treatment of animals. Fostering strong human-animal bonds will hopefully result in much less animal suffering.

The goal of our educational programs is to promote responsible animal care and guardianship, to make our community one where the relationship with animals is guided by compassion and respect for the intrinsic value of all animals.

P.A.W. is located on a beautiful beach-front property surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. The animals love their freedom as they run up and down the coconut trees and hide under large bushes – all in the safety of the securely fenced sanctuary ground. It truly is a “sanctuary” for all who live here!

P.A.W. is not funded by government or other organizations. We rely entirely on your help and assistance.

Madi Collins

I am in awe of the work she does. The introduced Miro and I to each and everyone of the cats in her rescue. She told us everyone’s name, exactly how each one arrived, who they get along with and who they don’t. She knows these animals and regards such high respect for each of their lives. She shared with us the cultural background, that the people of Belize don’t respect animals, and the fact that she’d dedicated her life to helping them has created some barriers between her and the rest of the community. She’s an island on her own, on this beautiful island and relies on the help of supporters to continue to provide care, food and medicine for these animals. I am in awe of this amazing woman and so grateful we had the honor of meeting her and staying in her casista.

Below is her personal letter taken from her web site, filled with heartfelt words:

Madi Collins

Three years ago I decided to give up my corporate lifestyle in the United States and return to my native land with my three cats. Upon arrival I witnessed many shocking acts of cruelty toward animals that I never imagined could happen in such a beautiful island paradise.

My childhood memories lingered in my mind. I wanted to have a companion animal but my mother would not allow it. Like most Belizeans, she felt animals to be dirty, disease ridden, belong outdoors, and that cats spread asthma and were the devil incarnate.

I recalled my mother telling me that if a black cat passed in front of me, I would have to turn around 9 times to get rid of the bad luck. I always ended up with a headache! As I grew older, I felt ridiculous performing this little act but felt an impulse to continue doing so. The older I became, I would hide so no one would see me acting like a fool. After some time, I decided to test the truth of this black cat superstition. After noticing that nothing bad would happen to me, I realized that it was just a horrible superstition and refrained from ever doing it again.

I remember always trying to befriend a cat when my mother wasn’t looking, or hide scraps of food to feed homeless and neglected cats.

Backed by my love and compassion for animals, along with my experience as a former animal volunteer in New York, I single-handedly began helping one animal after another. I could not ignore the pain and suffering of these animals.

Opening a shelter was one of my dreams while living in the US, but it never materialized. I truly believe in destiny and know I was brought back to this island to do this work with these beautiful animals in need.

It all began by feeding one cat and her two kittens. I continued doing this for months until the cat started coming closer and closer and finally let me touch her. What a victory that was for me! I still remember that feeling. I named mama cat “Masky”, and her two kittens “Peanut and Butter.”

It took a longer time to be able to finally touch Butter, but sadly I can’t say the same for Peanut, as he disappeared and never was seen again. I was devastated, and I will never know what happened to Peanut. But I am happy I could have done something for one kitten and her mother.

Today Butter lives in the sanctuary and his mother only comes to eat. Both have been sterilized. It is with Masky and Butter’s stories that the idea of the Sanctuary was formed. Many cats continue to smell food and come near, and the story has been repeated over and over. Today our sanctuary feeds and homes 63 homeless cats and 4 dogs.

I have welcomed each animal into my care despite the physical, mental, and financial difficulties it takes to care for all these animals.

I have cried along with my sick kittens, not knowing what their fate would be from not receiving proper medical care. Currently, there is no vet on the island. I have cleaned litter, sleeping areas, bowls, fed the animals, and performed countless other responsibilities which accompany caring for them. I have watched my funds grow low, not knowing if the next day I would be able to provide food for everyone.

But despite all these hardships, I have enjoyed the pleasure of watching the animals grow into happy and healthy adults. I have enjoyed watching them play, cuddle and jump all over me and each other. I can’t help but smile even if I am feeling exhausted.

I am so grateful for the chance to help these animals and to be able to give them a fighting chance for a wonderful life.

This work is not glamorous, but it is the most enjoyable, rewarding work I have ever done and I would not change it for the world! I hope you will find it in your heart to help my dream of a better world for the animals of Belize come true!

Madi Collins


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.