Here a few stories — with and without happy ending — about our “clients”. Please click on the links below for details:

Case Histories



Night stanceNight Mare

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes classic Hound of the Baskervilles he portrayed a giant satanic canine creature with glowing eyes that would tear out the throats of innocent travelers who traveled across the English Moors at night.

In the hills above the Hermosa area, about 10 minutes from Jacó Beach, the local residents have been suffering a somewhat similar situation for 2 years (except for that tearing out the throat thing). Stories persisted that a huge man-eating dog, the size of a horse, had been seen coming down out of its mountain lair terrorizing residents in the middle of the night, ripping through trash bags searching for food.

Night trapThere were also reports where residents noticed that the giant beast had a broken leg. These, at least, were the local legends when McKee Project veterans Doris and Dieter decided to brave possible horrible, bloody deaths being ripped apart by this terrible creature and attempted to capture it alive.

An ingenious wooden box-trap was constructed the size of a small 1 car garage. The key trigger mechanism, custom designed by Dieter, would slam shut when activated by the animal. They soon realized that the creature they were dealing with had a higher level of intelligence than expected, as various other animals were being trapped in the “Monster Box”, but not the “Evil Devil Dog”.

Night kittenIt wasn’t until 6 weeks of traveling up into the hills twice daily, releasing the innocent animals trapped by mistake, when they finally succeeded. The captured giant dog has been named “Night” and turns out to be a pony-sized Great Dane that was bravely trying to survive on his own for over 2 years.

— by Mike Williams

NightNight is not an easy companion animal — living for 2 years on his own made him a shy and cautious dog, which doesn’t trust anybody. He loves Doris and Dieter, but definitely distrusts and is afraid of all other humans. He doesn’t have problems with other animals, he even adopted two little kittens just few days after he came to Doris’s and Dieter’s house — they were not bigger than the top of his nose then. Because of his past he will probably never be like other dogs — there will be always some distrust to people other than his rescuers. This is probably the main reason why Doris and Dieter decided to add Night to their own family.

Did you have similar experiences? Please Tell us your story.

Ninja x rayNinja’s Story

Ninja’s eyes were clouded over with sadness and pain. Liana didn’t know where he came from, but he found his way to her house. He curled up under a bush, and he wouldn’t eat or drink anything. He was terribly skinny, and one of his back legs was swollen, oozing a smelly green liquid. There were ticks and fleas crawling all over him, and he was missing a lot of fur — so much fur that we thought he had mange. It seemed like he was on his way out; he was even missing half of a canine tooth. He whined, asking for help. It was the last day of the Billabong World Surf Championships in Hermosa, and nothing could be done until morning. The road between Hermosa and Jaco was like a parking lot.

NinjaIn the morning there was a glimmer of hope; he took the food and water offered to him. At the vet’s office, we found out that he was only about a year old. An x-ray was taken of his leg, and the results were puzzling. The ‘ankle’ bones were fused, and the bone above the ‘ankle’ was porous; it looked like a sea sponge with a lot of holes. Not even the specialist knew if it was bone cancer or an infection. Everyone wanted to see him get better, and the decision was made to amputate. But before the amputation could be done, another problem arose. There were crystals in his urine making it difficult for him to pee normally. It knocked us back to square one; if special food couldn’t cure the problem, he would have to be put to sleep. Thankfully, it worked. After three long weeks at the vet’s office, the doctors were able to amputate and Ninja was cleared to leave.

Ninja quickly adjusted to life on three legs. He is a survivor in every sense of the word. Even after his wounds healed, he overcame Ehrlichia (a disease passed on by ticks) and kennel cough before achieving a clean bill of health. Luckily, he does not have cancer. Ninja, who is friendly and full of energy, now lives with Liana in Hermosa—in the house he chose for himself. He is thankful to Doris for believing in him, and he is thankful to the McKee Project for saving his life.

Did you have similar experiences? Please Tell us your story.

Baz the CatThe cat came back

In August a mature white and tabby cat appeared at our hotel. We had complaints from guests telling us that it was getting into their rooms and eating food and garbage. He was definitely very timid and ran whenever anyone approached. Since we already have adopted and socialized three feral cats we really didn't want another. We tried to chase him away, hoping he would decide it would be better to live elsewhere. Even our Weimaraner, "Mika" would chase it off the property but the cat persevered and we relented when we saw he was thin and malnourished. We started feeding him, thinking if we socialized him we could find him a home. One of the guests named the cat “Baz” and slowly, over many weeks he allowed us to touch him, he started showing up regularly at meal times and eventually even let me pick him up. We had him neutered and immunized and in December we took out an ad in el Chunche (with a picture) as well as contacting the McKee Project to try to find him a home.

The man who cleans our pool decided to take Baz for his father who lives in Palmares. They came to pick him up and we put him in a cat carrier we had borrowed from the vet. After saying our goodbyes they drove off at 10:00 a.m., with the cat carrier safely strapped into the back of their pick-up truck. That very same afternoon at 4 p.m. Baz was back. When I called to find out what happened I learned that the cat had sprung the door on the box and jumped from the moving pick-up truck. They got him as far as Punta Leona (11 kms from here) when he escaped (they last saw him at 11:00 a.m.). We can't believe he made it all the way back to the hotel in just 5 hours.

We have decided that we are his for better or worse. Life rarely gives you such a clear sign of what to do.

He is having some trouble adjusting to our other 3 gatos but they will work it out with time. The dog and Baz get along really well and he has turned out to be the most social of all our cats and interacts well with the guests. So now we have 4 cats and we just hope no others find us up here on top of the hill !

— by Jan Tilston, Hotel Vista Pacifico

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Even in real life sometimes there is a happy ending. Just ask Buddy. Buddy is probably about 10 or 11 years old, looks like he has some Chow in him, and has way too much fur to be a beach dog. But beach dog he is. He loves the ocean and runs along the sand, in and out of the sea. Buddy has a problem — he is terrified of thunder and fireworks. So for 4 months of the year he is the perfect dog. Well mannered, obedient, stays at home to guard the house. Thunder, however, sends him into a panic — he chooses flight over fight and off he goes. Problem is, Buddy will go into any house with an open door and get under the first bed he finds. When the surprised owner of the home tries to oust him he does some aggressive posturing — never actually bites anyone, but makes it known that he is not about to move. You can imagine how disconcerting this can be for someone to have this hairy wolf-like beast move in.

Well, Buddy's former owner of many years left the country and left him behind. He somehow ended up in Esterillos Oeste and wandered around town looking for someone to love him. One day he ended up my rental house — the tenants called and said there was a dog there who wouldn't leave. I went to check it out and there was my introduction to Buddy. He had on a collar so I took him home with me thinking I could find out who he belonged to. No luck. A friend drove him around town in his golf cart hoping to find someone who knew or wanted Buddy.

Soon after I had to leave for Canada and Buddy was a wanderer once more. He became quite famous in Oeste — ejected from home after home with brooms and hoses — and all he wanted was to be loved! He ended up in a foster home through the McKee project (thank you McKee, for all the animals you save!) but somehow landed in Bejuco, once again looking for someone to love. A friend of mine found him — or I should say he found a friend of mine! — he had a badly infected foot and she had it treated. But she was moving in a short time and couldn't take Buddy, so back he went to McKee and a foster home.

Buddy storyI don't know how he got here, but one day there was Buddy walking up my driveway. I became his foster home while he was put up for adoption once again by McKee. It's not easy to find a home for an older dog and the longer he was with us the fonder we became of him. McKee provided us with some doggy tranquilizers that got us through Xmas and New Year’s fireworks. Thanks again McKee! The real life happy ending is that my daughter, who goes running every morning with Buddy, has said that she will co-own Buddy with me and we have decided to keep him. Buddy finally has a home. And we are waiting for the first clap of thunder…

— by Eleanor Rogers

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Socks, the retired adventurer

BuddySocks the cat is a tomboy who loves play time and mischief. She was taken in by Sylvia van Baekel as an abandoned kitten and quickly became a beloved part of the family. When Socks was a little less than two years old, she and her human family moved from Jacó to Herradura, which is about seven km by car. Socks enjoyed the move because she had more freedom. In Herradura there was more property to roam around at night and more things to hunt.

Feeling rambunctious one day, Socks played and played with the Christmas decorations that Sylvia was trying to put up. In fact, she had so much fun with the decorations that she was kicked out of the house. Sylvia expected Socks to find a quite place for a nap and come home in the evening, but Socks had a different plan—an epic journey. We’ll never know what caused Socks to begin her trek that day. There was some construction going on around the house, and perhaps she didn’t like all the extra noise. Maybe she wanted to explore the land farther from her house. Maybe she wanted to visit her old stomping grounds. Who knows? But that is exactly what she did. Socks traveled all the way back to her previous home in Jacó.

After Socks had been gone for about a month, Sylvia lost hope and finally gave all of Socks’ toys away. However, the very next day Sylvia received an important phone call. Socks had been found, and she was essentially unharmed. She had survived snakes, cars, power lines, dogs, and who knows what else! Her only wounds were minor scratches and a few small burn marks. She was skinny but alive and happy to see familiar faces. She was so happy that she didn’t even protest during the car ride back to Herradura, and car rides are not one of her favorite things.

Since her adventure, Socks has settled down a bit. She still loves to play, but now she stays close to home. Socks is content to keep Sylvia in sight and cat food in her belly.

Socks 2

Rina the Argentine puppy

Rina - case historyJuly, 15, 2010 - 3 weeks ago my friends and I Rina at one of the constructions places in Córdoba (Argentina). With a terrible mange, swollen paws and a huge infection all over her body. We brought her to a friend’s clinic, where she was treated for 18 day. Many people helped us donating money for her treatment and we also were lucky to find Miguel, an angel who decided to give Rina a new loving home. Today Rina is recuperating in her new home, with Miguel and her 3 “sisters” .

Rina is a 6-month-old puppy, very obedient, sweet and very thankful. Miguel says, that she is doing great, loves her new family, although it’s only a week she stays with them.

For now we can only show Rina in the condition we found her, as her treatment needs a long time, but she already looks much, much better. She is a beautiful puppy and was lucky to find a family, which will love her and take care of her forever.

Two months later: We are sending now the pictures of the “New Rina” — two months after she was rescued (see below).

Rina two months later

Rina after 2

Rinsa the puppy

Rina - case historyThis is the story of Rinsa — it’s so important to tell, because it represents hope for life. (and I have tears in my eyes while writing this…)

On March 18 2010, I was walking Rober, my loyal friend and companion for the last 9 years, in the Sarmiento Park in Cordoba. And this is where I saw a female dog, barking and running out of a bar there. I kept going, so as to not make the dog nervous, while at the same time trying to get a closer look at her and the place she came from. Inside the bar, I saw a little puppy under one of the chairs there. I left, and tried to put the sight of this little puppy out of my mind, but to no avail. And when I tried to sleep, I tossed and turned all night thinking about this little guy under the chair in the bar. I’d noticed that there was a couple sitting right next to this poor creature, but it didn’t look like they could care one way or the other.

The next day, my boyfriend Claudio and I decided to go there and feed both the mom and the puppy. To our surprise, there were 3 puppies — the brown one I saw the previous day, and two black ones. The black puppies seemed to be OK, but the little brown one looked quite ill — it didn’t move, had difficulty breathing and looked basically unconscious. Her condition was terrible, and she had no fur save for a few patches on her back, which were also falling off. We immediately decided to bring her to our vet. At just 400g she was tiny, and had mange, fungus as well as a major respiratory infection. And of course, she was starving and dehydrated, with her immune system all but non-existent. It wasn’t easy to treat her due to her light weight, but the vet Mariana took the chance and started treatment, with a minimum dosage of Ivermectin, as well as some other meds.

We went back home, gave her a bath and kept her in a separate room, as we still didn’t know if the mange she had was contagious to people. She was crying all night, but we had to wait for the results from the lab before letting her get closer to us. The vets mother told us to put, together with her teddy bear, an alarm clock, which will make her think that it’s the mothers heartbeat. This helped a lot, and she was able to sleep better with the bear and the alarm clock, warm and cuddly.

Rinsa - afterShe wasn’t able to eat, because she had no teeth yet. With a lot of patience and love we both were able to feed her canned chow — little portions every some time. The progress was remarkable — in a mere 15 or 20 days later, she was already stealing Rober’s dog chow right out of the bag, getting her entire little body into the bag.

Thanks to both the meds and to our love, Rinsa recuperated from her terrible condition. Her fur started growing back, she gained weight and became a beautiful, healthy puppy. Today Rinsa is 8 months old, and (predictably enough) we just couldn’t even consider the thought of giving her away. So we adopted her as our “baby of the house”, and the love she is giving us back is just incredible.

Rocky makes a comeback

Mahatma Gandhi said once: “One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals”.

Yet I wonder what Gandhi would say if he could see Rocky — the little dog rescued by Syl in Herradura. Where would he put us on the scale of greatness and moral progress?

Rocky before

It’s a shame that an animal looking like this can wander around on the street in front of the school, and there is nobody who would help him. Rocky obviously had a home in the past — he’s been neutered, and this means that somebody brought him to one of our clinics some time ago. What happened later, we can only guess. It’s very probable that because of bad nutrition, his immune system was basically non-existent, which would explain the mange.

Mange is a skin condition very easy to both diagnose (each clinic has a microscope) and treat quite cheaply. Diagnosed and treated on time, mange disappears soon after the treatment starts. But if the animals don’t receive the proper treatment, the condition only worsens, with near complete loss of their coat, as well as festering sores that are doubtless quite painful.

In our experience at least 50% of the animals which get in accidents or become sick, automatically lose their homes and become street dogs. Nobody wants them, the people kick them out, and they can barely walk because they are sick and they are starving. Sometimes they become very shy and it’s very difficult to catch them. Rocky was not shy, Syl called him and he came wagging his tail. It was his lucky day.

Now Rocky is in our foster home at Shirlene and Carlos’ and is fighting for his life — we hope, that with good care and love he will receive there, he will recuperate and get another chance.

UPDATE: Rocky made a comeback and is ready for a new home! (See below).

Rocky after


Do you remember Rocky? — he’s a cute, light beige-colored miniature Greyhound-type doggie with a ready smile, who was abandoned by his owner, probably when he got sick. With terrible mange all over his body and ehrlichiosis at a stage that most animals don’t survive, our vet said that Rocky’s blood work was that of a dead dog and that his chances of survival were almost nil. Well, Rocky is a fighter, and he did in fact survive. Because of his poor condition, he changed foster homes, moving from Shirlene and Carlos in Quebrada Amarilla to Jaco with Katja and Chris, as he needed very special care. After recuperating for nearly 6 months, Rocky went to yet another foster home, where he lived with Angela Maria, Johnny and 3 doggie friends, waiting for his new (and hopefully permanent) home.

Although Rocky is a cute, loving and loyal dog, nobody was very interested in adopting him. Finally, one of our friends — MARY STOMPE from California — decided to change Rocky’s life. Since way back in March 2011, when Mary first met Rocky on the beach in Jaco, she’d been trying to find this little guy a home in the States, and by the end of October, Mary finally found a new family for Rocky. While checking out the logistics of sending Rocky to California, we found out that the cost to send him would be around $700 – way too much for us. This is when Mary decides that she would come down to Costa Rica and pick Rocky up herself, considerably reducing his travelling costs. Our friend, supporter and big time animal lover STUART WELCH offered his beautiful beachfront condo to Mary free of charge, so that her trip might also include a little vacation. Mary stayed with us for a short 4 days, but she thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful apartment, as well as the fact that she could have Rocky there with her.

Rocky the Gringo

Rocky loved Mary from the first moment, and after a mere 5 hour flight our Tico puppy became a Gringo!

He lives now with Mary’s mother MAGGIE NEESE in San Francisco, close enough to Mary’s place that she can visit him and take him for long walks together with her own dogs almost every day. In California Rocky went to an obedience school called FITNFURRY, where he was spending 8 hours a day learning basic obedience and playing with other doggie-friends. He finished the training with a Diploma, and now he is not only well educated, but he also “speaks English”!

Thank you Mary for going through all the trouble and changing Rocky’s life — after what he went through as a puppy and a young dog, he deserves the best and you and your family gave it to him!



There is nobody who lives here in Jaco that wouldn’t know Stinky, the older medium-size black and white dog with one eye and a permanent skin condition.


As I understand it, he did have an owner at one time, but this never kept him off the streets. His fame reached as far away as New York, where Stinky had a “godfather” and probably his biggest fan, Ronald Meltzer.

When Stinky got older and his health started to decline, Lee and Lesley from the restaurant The Wok, where Stinky was hanging out a lot, decided to adopt him and take him home, in order to try and keep him from roaming the increasingly more congested streets. This is when Stinky changed his mind and “moved” to Celine on Calle Bohio. Celine was feeding him and letting him stick around, but she definitely didn’t want to adopt him. Our organization (with the help of Dr. Carlos Morlaes, Dra. Wendy Villalobos and Ronald Meltzer) was sponsoring his vet visits, his treatments and then even a complicated orthopedic surgery, all the while with Celine making sure that he received his pills and had proper care.

Then Stinky just disappeared from the Jaco streets. Our investigation into his whereabouts revealed that Celine had decided to take him home and let him be a part of her family. It was actually more Stinky adopting them than the other way around, as this smart and charming dog always knew exactly what he wanted. There were many people in his life who wanted to give him a home, but he was a free spirit and preferred living on the streets, surrounded by so many human friends always willing to help when he got into trouble.

The last years with Celine and her family were wonderful and full of love for Stinky. I saw him from time to time at the vet clinic, where his human “parents” were bringing him for checkups and/or treatments. But then one day I saw him looking sick and on an I/V, and I then found out that he suffers renal (kidney) insufficiency. Many older animals die because of this, but Stinky was a fighter, and after many treatments (as well as a special diet) he recovered well enough to have a good quality of life at his own home, returning just once a week for an I/V treatment. I saw him on one of those days, and it was such a funny picture – he walks in, happy and friendly, then walks straight through the reception area to the back of the clinic where the treatment was administered, followed by his “daddy” carrying a doggie bed the size a Great Dane would fit in.

Stinky was an extremely smart, friendly, but also stubborn dog with incredible charm, which made everybody so sympathetic to him. He died last week, in his own home he had chosen for his last years, surrounded by the people who loved him and gave him not only affection and attention, but also everything he needed to make his life both longer and more comfortable. Of course we are all very sad that Stinky has passed, but what makes us feel better is knowing that he had a long, wonderful life, and that in his last years he also had a real family who loved him, who cared about him, and who he loved back with all of his doggie-heart.

Did you have similar experiences? Please Tell us your story.