Podcast with Laura Raikes, Founder of Cocos Animal Welfare

Laura Raikes

My guest today has a history of assisting animals in need. As a little girl growing up in Wales, Laura Raikes would rescue and adopt cats and dogs to bring them to her family’s farm. She first came to Playa del Carmen 14 years ago on a holiday, and loved it so much she ended up staying. Her love for animals has made a big impact in the Riviera Maya community.

Laura’s Animal Welfare organization is named after a kitten she named Coco. Coco was hit by a car on the road and much to Laura’s surprise people joked about the travesty. It was then Laura decided she wanted to change the way people saw animals, and to keep them off the roads. Her first project was to trap cats, have them spayed or neutered, and then released.

As many as 7 local veterinarians started donating two surgeries a week. As the need grew, Laura hired her first vet, Edgar, who helped to spay and neuter thousands of animals. To complete the idea of animal welfare, Laura realized educating the local community about animal care would also go a long way in helping local animals.

In May of 2016, Cocos was able to build a state-of-the-art facility, which features a multipurpose room to function as a classroom for education, a training room for volunteers, and on Saturday mornings, there is even yoga with cats!

Tips for Travelers

If you are visiting the Riviera Maya, and would like to help the animals of the area:

  • Make sure the animal you are trying to help isn’t already someone’s pet.
  • Remember, cats here are much slimmer than cats where you may be from.
  • Contact Cocos while you are still in the Riviera Maya, if you want to take the animal home with you.
  • If you rescue an animal, take responsibility for the rescue. If you can’t take it home, then help it find a home here.

Volunteer Activities

  • Kitten cuddling from 12-2 p.m. on Saturday’s.
  • Adoption fair — 1st Saturday of every month.
  • Second-hand sale to raise money for programs.
  • Salsa dancing to raise funds.
  • Help with surgery prep or around the center (two-week training course required).

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