THE “GOLDEN PAW AWARD” is presented twice a year by both OUR ORGANIZATION and by the magazine “PETS Y MAS”, and its purpose is to honor local people in our communities for their compassion and service toward animals.
On May 23, 2013 this award was presented to Catalina Valverde – a young wife and mother who lives with her family in Atenas, but spends at least half of her time here in our county, visiting her family and taking care of the canine and feline population in this area. This is why roughly half of all her rescues come from the Quebrada Ganado/Tarcoles area.
I first met Catalina in May of 2011, when she contacted me about organizing a spay day in Quebrada Ganado. It was the first clinic held in that location, and I was surprised at how much interest the people showed. While the surgical teams of students and vets from UNA were implementing the procedures, Catalina’s husband Dr. Victor Montenegro – vet and docent at UNA – was offering free consultations for animals with health problems, and most of the patients received not only a complete check up, but also a free blood workup. The day ended up with30 spayed/neutered animals, as well as many others attended by Dr. Montenegro.
Since then, Catalina and myself stay in contact, and this is how I was able to get to know her and her entire family.
With every phone call or Facebook posting regarding an animal in need, Catalina, either alone or with a helper, is already on her way to save another life, and she doesn’t mind driving 100 Kilometers to rescue an animal in danger. The animals she rescues get attended to and treated by her husband Victor, or if their condition requires hospitalization, at the University Clinic in Heredia. They all stay at Catalina’s and Victor’s house until they are 100% healthy, spayed/neutered and ready for their new homes. All this is possible thanks to the incredible involvement of the entire Montenegro-Valverde family, as all 3 children are also involved in this project – they all pitch in and help take care of the animals, not only seeing to their respective treatments but also giving them love and attention, which as we all know is often a key element in the recovery process, especially in the case of abused animals.
Their house has become a shelter for all kinds of abused, neglected and injured creatures; besides dogs and cats, you’ll also find 2 goats and one pig, all saved from the butcher, a rabbit that was injured by a dog and even an old quail. And there are also different wildlife animals like sloths, macaws, parrots staying there as “short term tenants” who get brought to the wildlife rescue centers after receiving first aid treatments.
Catalina’s life is all about her protégés. Also her husband Victor dedicates every free minute to his wife’s project. This extraordinary family does an incredible job saving animals lives, and all this without being a part of any organization. Sometimes they work together with Animales Atenas, sometimes with us, but for the most part they are on their own, working hard and spending every extra penny for their rescues.
A HUGE Thank You goes out to Catalina and her family, for being such important and active contributors to animal welfare in Costa Rica.