Local March 13, 2022 | 11:09 am

You found a dog or cat at your hotel in the Dominican Republic

The dog or cat you run across on your visit should be shown affection, but likely is best off where it is currently living.

Mark Diekmann

The Dominican Republic is a major tourist destination that entices travelers from all over the world to its beautiful beaches. Yet, as a rescue organization, we get a fair number of these tourists reaching out to us as they are saddened by the life of a dog or cat that they have come across at their hotel. Yes, there are undoubtedly many, many animals in need here on the island, but to those unfamiliar with animal life on the island, most dogs and cats, even if they are living on the streets, have carved out a decent life. 

We certainly understand getting these reports from visitors. We cannot remember the last time we were in the United States and saw a stray dog on the streets while the Dominican Republic has tens of thousands of animals roaming free. It is just natural for a tourist to think that if a dog or cat is on the street, it must be “in need.” Our culture tends to lean towards the thinking that an animal must have an owner, a fenced yard, and be kept to be happy. Although that might be the ideal in our eyes,  the culture in the Dominican Republic in regards to animals is different, and even the dogs and cats are somewhat different in that many do not do well in captivity after living free all their lives. 

Most of the dogs and cats do well as they have restaurants, shops, local caring Dominicans, and even tourists looking after them and providing them with food and affection. It is part of the culture to have animals roaming free to go about their day visiting their favorite food spots and hanging out with their friends, both human and animal. In fact, many Dominicans who “own” dogs don’t keep them tied up but let them wander during the day and then feed them and take them in at night. We know of several dogs that head to the hotels and beaches during the day to get treats from the tourists yet go home to their owners at night. 

Believe us; we certainly understand your desire for us to take in an animal you run across and adopt it out. We would love nothing more than to do so. However, because of the sheer number of animals on the streets and at the hotels and the fact that many of these dogs and cats are not happy losing their freedom, it is not possible or feasible for us to take them all in. Unfortunately, we at Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic can only take in those with major medical needs or those in danger of dying if we don’t step in. Even just limiting our scope to those strays in extreme need leaves a considerable number to help. This number is beyond the ability of our limited number of dedicated volunteers and resources to handle. 

So as a tourist, how can you help?  

– Feel free to give that dog or cat you run across a little affection. If they are willing to approach you, they likely crave a little human interaction that they get from different tourists every week.

– Make sure your hotel knows you love having the animals there. Sadly, many hotels feel the tourists don’t want the animals around and will secretly remove them, which often means they are poisoned.  

– Try to stay only at hotels that welcome animals on their property. 

– If you see hotel personnel treating an animal poorly, please voice your complaint to management. 

– Support our spay/neuter initiatives. To date, we have done over 7,000 surgeries, and if you consider, that means each animal having one less litter of 5 unwanted animals and those litters not having litters, and so on, we have prevented hundreds of thousands of animals from being born on the streets. Each surgery costs us $40, and you can sponsor an animal at ww.dcdr.org/donate. 

– Spread the word to your family and friends of the work we are doing here on the island to help as many as possible. Join and follow our Facebook Page:  


– If there is an animal with a true medical emergency, we will try to help if we have available volunteers in the area (we are all volunteers, and many of us have full-time jobs). Unfortunately, we are often limited because many large resorts will not allow us on the property without special permission, which is not always easy to get. You can email help@dcdr.org to report an animal. Please include your hotel, the exact location of the animal on the property, when that animal is usually there, your full contact info as we will need you to help us find the dog or cat, medical needs, photos of the animal, photos of the location, pictures of the medical issue if you have transportation to get the animal to one of our approved vet locations. 

We thank you for caring about the animals of the Dominican Republic. We appreciate your thoughts and support as we work to tackle the immense problem of animals in need here in the country, and we thank you for your understanding on why the dog or cat you run across on your visit should be shown affection, but likely is best off where it is currently living. Gracias!

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March 13, 2022 12:37 pm

100% true!

March 13, 2022 5:38 pm

A well written posting.
I live in New York and my family and I set up a sheltered area outside with heating pads during the winter if we come across a stray because given adequate food, water and shelter, most cats and dogs can survive outdoors. As tourists in the DR we sometimes forget that the same environmental hardships such as winter don’t exist there so given an animal has a food and water source as the article brings out, they can survive fine. 
I completely agree with what’s written about giving them a little love (if safe to do so of course) and DEFINITELY having spaying/neutering done. Growing up I still remember the time when we did have a stray pet problem here in the States. There was a campaign that started in the last 1970’s to spay/neuter your pet. In the 1980’s TV personalities such as Bob Barker, the host of a TV game show, “The Price is Right” joined in raising awareness. Campaigns such as this help change the thinking of the next generation and as the article mentions, every spayed or neutered pet is 5 less PER LITTER that won’t be added to the street.
If you can afford to donate to these guys, please do. I will. This is under-appreciated work – Thanks everyone @ Dogs and Cats of DR for your dedication.   

Andrew Schaffino
April 3, 2022 11:11 pm

Was in Samana at the V Samana resort, had a great time chilling over dinner with the resort cat. Had a great time. Same in Santo Domingo at a really nice restaurant chilling with the local Labrador over some ribs and chicharrones.