Natural Heroes – Susanne Weiss

Written by Kajsa IngelssonMarch 20, 2017

There’s something special with people giving all that they got to take care of those who can’t fend from themselves and have no voice. Susanne is one of these wonderful people. I first ran into her on the slow food market in Merida, and fascinated by her iron will and big heart I soon found myself at her shelter doing this interview. I’m sure you will find her and her story as inspiring as I do!..

Ok, so first things first; at what point did you decide to create an animal shelter based out of your home?

First I want to introduce us from Animal Rescue Bonnie Beach: My husband Juan Ordonez, our partner Minerva Cano and me Susanne Weiss.

My husband and I had never planned to run a shelter, it just happened about 5 years ago (2012). We first rescued one puppy in front of our door, then another puppy was left there, and then we rescued our first litter of 4, then another litter of 4, and more and more…..!  Plus the cats! As we have fairly large grounds around our house, the animals stay with us. There are so many animals who need help, and I have always loved animals.

Where do the animals come from?

The majority of our animals are from Telchac Puerto, but some come from other villages, and we also rescue dogs in distress whenever we see any while we are driving.

At the moment we have 26 adult dogs, 5 puppies and 30 cats.


Describe the relationship you have with the animals you take in to the shelter.

For me, they are my children: I feed them, give them their necessary medications, bathe them, walk with them and, most importantly, I give them love! I hug them as often as I can.

Have any of the stray animals you’ve taken in found permanent homes elsewhere?

We have given about 100 animals into adoption within 5 years. Last year, 2016, was very successful with 30 dogs and 5 cats adopted.  The adopted dogs are mainly puppies; unfortunately, not many people adopt adult dogs. Every animal for adoption is dewormed, properly vaccinated and sterilized. Many animals found families last year at the Slow Food Market in Merida and I met a lot of great people there — like you, Kajsa.

How do you finance your shelter?

The financing is very difficult as we have only very few donations from some good friends. I use my pension from Germany and my husband works different tasks e.g. fumigations, administering houses here in Telchac, now as a subcontractor for 15 small houses in Merida, etc. I help with my flee-market sales every Sunday morning in the square of Telchac with the clothes and items people donate to me or sometimes we buy packs of clothes which are imported from the U.S.  We would be very grateful for more donations, e.g., bags of food, flee-market items or money.


In your opinion, what do you believe people can do to prevent the abuse and neglect of animals?

It is very difficult to change people’s  attitudes towards the abuse and neglect of animals, and this applies not only to dogs and cats, but all other animals too. Even the cute zarigueas who do not do any harm to anyone are killed.

Two years ago, Mexico put in place laws relating to the torture, abuse or killing of animals, however, it is not an easy process to convict someone. Witnesses, evidence, photos, etc., are required; as  well, people are afraid that they may be personally harmed as a consequence of providing information.

I strongly believe that in order to change people’s attitudes in the long term, it would be extremely beneficial  if children were educated about the care and treatment of animals at schools, and at any level – Primary, Secondary plus Preparatory. The overpopulation of dogs in Mexico is a huge problem and must be addressed, as well.

What steps should we take to lower the amount of homeless pets in Mexico?

Sterilize, sterilize, sterilize. I think there are more than 6 million stray dogs in Mexico.


How has having animals around you and in your home improved your life?

Animals are amazing creatures and it brings me such joy to watch them play and observe how they learn to live together. I am so happy for each of our many “friends,” who have experienced so much suffering, sickness, and deprivation in their lives yet who are now healthy and happy. I want each of them to now enjoy a loving home and family of their own. Animals need love and they give so much love in return!

What is the best story regarding the shelter and animals that you can think of?

Each dog and cat we have taken in has a story. We have known so many, many over the years that it is so hard to choose just one story. To help an animal that once was suffering – whether from disease or abuse or injury – and nurse it back to health with proper care and love is always “the best story.”

We do not believe in putting “Before” pictures of the many tragic conditions in which we have found our animals on our website, but we remember, and we only celebrate each “After” photo when the animal has been restored to good health. Each adoption is also our best story! We have so many beautiful animals just waiting to be loved and to give love to someone special.


We find you to be a super strong and inspiring woman! What’s rules do you live by and where do you find your strength?

I was born on 22.7.1947 in Munich Germany and grew up in a loving environment with my Mom, stepfather and one brother. They always supported me and taught me to be strong, correct and to follow the path you have chosen. These are still my rules; as well, the support of my husband and friends and my love for the animals keep me going every day. When I see my children in the evening laying down to sleep then my heart is full of peace.