Ricardo Pimentel may not have had an ark to ride out the storm, but he’s being hailed as something of a modern-day Noah nonetheless.
As deadly hurricane Delta bore down on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula tearing a path of destruction directly to his door, Pimentel herded hundreds of animals—including more than 300 dogs, numerous rabbits, chickens, and even a hedgehog—inside his home to shelter them from the storm. (A flock of sheep huddled for safety on the patio.)
Although his house took a beating, inside and out, the entire menagerie survived. “It doesn’t matter if the house is dirty, it can be cleaned,” Pimentel told AP. “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.”
Pimentel’s actions were no surprise to those who know him. The home he shares with his family serves as the hub of Tierra de Animales (Land of Animals), the 10-year-old animal sanctuary he founded about 20 miles southwest of Cancun.
Knowing supplies might be hard to come by, prior to the storm, Pimentel posted to social media about his concerns for the welfare of his flock. As Delta raged, he also posted pictures from inside his house—which looked like a real-life version of 101 Dalmatians—times three.
Once Delta had passed, with so many mouths to feed and a major post-storm cleanup underway, Pimentel didn’t realize his posts had gone viral until donations from around the world started pouring in. Not only that, neighbors soon arrived in the aftermath of the hurricane to help clear debris and rebuild the sanctuary.
While he was awed by the generosity of donors and volunteers, Pimentel hopes this moment in the spotlight will serve a larger purpose—helping him find forever homes for some of his rescues so he’ll be able to save even more.
“We would like to think that thanks to all this attention, somebody would like to be part of the story and say: ‘I adopted a dog saved from that famous Hurricane Delta,’” he explained.
The storm may be over, but Pimentel continues to walk the walk, a living testament to the sanctuary’s motto, “Leave footprints of kindness for others to follow.”