Animal AWARE is the largest no-kill shelter in Central America. Nestled in the Guatemalan highlands, the shelter normally houses upwards of 300 dogs. The vision of AWARE (also known as “Hound Heights”) is to improve the lives of domestic animals in Guatemala through humane education and promote spay and neutering. The 10 acre compound is run by an American woman, Xenii Nielsen. The compound houses a medical clinic, adult and puppy kennels, cat enclosure and a volunteer quarters. All rescued dogs receive necessary treatment and are put up for adoption. Volunteer veterinarians hold low-cost spay and neuter clinics on site, as well as outreach “Castration Clinics” to local villages. The shelter accepts volunteers from throughout the world. They perform duties as dog walking, feeding, bathing and kennel cleaning. Having dedicated her life to the rescue of abandoned and abused dogs in Guatemala, Xenii Nielsen offers some advice, “Don’t start a shelter, …but educate, educate, and castrate.”
Ralph Quinonez is a documentary and travel photographer living in Long Beach, California. His long term project documents the plight of street dogs and the groups that work for their behalf. He has corroborated with organizations such as Helps International, Island Dog and Animal AWARE.
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