By: Samuel Collazo Merle and Jan A. Robles Berríos
Do you remember the last time you visited a mechanic? If so, you probably remember the scene of the mechanic at his/her workshop. Surely, the mechanic was working out around seven cars and everything looked like a little mess.
Mechanic Felipe Mercado is not the exception. When you enter his workshop surrounded by mango trees you see the scene explained previously. Here is the unusual part: he is not only a mechanic, but also a dog rescuer.
Felipe Mercado has his workshop at his house in San Germán, Puerto Rico. It is located in Poblado Rosario. He has some cars waiting to be repaired. Despite the clutter, you can feel fresh breeze and see the river next to his house. Also, while he works, you can see dogs playing around the workshop.
Mr. Mercado grew up in San Germán close to a river and always was close to nature. His childhood ” was a good one, without the presence of tablets, smartphones or computers that keep people from enjoying nature and the perspective of life.”
Thanks to these experiences, he respects the life of animals and is kind to them. “My parents taught me that and it’s something I will not forget and I will try to teach others also.”
Felipe Mercado have been rescuing animals, especially dogs, for the last five years. All of this started with a friend’s call.
One day, Mercado’s friend told him he was going move to the United states and it will be difficult to keep his dog. So, he offered his pet to Felipe and the only thing Felipe had to do was pick it up that day.
Sadly, Felipe was very busy that day and decided to go the next day, but it was too late. His friend told him, the dog tried to jump the wall with the leash on and hung himself.
He felt guilty for “leaving that poor animal to die.” His wife Nydia Méndez boosted him up and they started doing something positive for animals.
Mr. Mercado tries “to catch them, if possible, find them a home or take them to a good shelter where they are taken care of.”
Felipe Mercado does this because it is heartbreaking to him knowing that an animal goes days without food. And all of this volunteer job is possible thanks to the support of his wife.
Mrs. Méndez is a dog lover who does not like people who mistreat animals and it breaks her heart knowing that there are so many animals that can be saved by some volunteer but no one does anything. And she said her husband “took rescuing animals very seriously and everywhere we go he try to help them.”
Some of these interesting experiences with animals were two years ago. “I was driving to get some parts to repair a car and suddenly a branch of a tree fell in front of my car and I had to stop dramatically. In that moment, a little puppy came out of the grass next to the road.”
“That little puppy looked scared, unhealthy and very skinny; you could see his skeleton. I talked to him and he responded, so I decided to pick it up, feed him and find a good owner. But, the little puppy had a sad ending because the owner took him to veterinary and it died due to his poor stage of alimentation.”
Others animals had a happy ending and go to Mercado’s home. Actually, Mercado has three dogs and a cat. This is the reason he could not keep them all. “I would like to keep them, but I do my best to find them a home a soon as possible.”
“It is difficult because sometimes it is hard to find them a good place that they can deserve because most of the people want little puppies that came from a good breed. In the meantime I take care of them.”, said Felipe Mercado.
This volunteer job presents dangerous situations. One day Felipe Mercado was trying to rescue a dog and a car hit him. He was thrown several feet away and almost died. Since that moment he is little afraid of “others animals who wear clothes and are behind a steering wheel.”
Felipe Mercado knows there is many people do not care about animals, mistreat them and also abuse them. For this reason his job for this kind of people is not seen as a life changing job.
Nevertheless, he believes that he has changed the lives of the animals he has rescued or saved from being killed by a car or from starving.
Mercado thinks that in Puerto Rico love for animals has been lost. This can be perceived by all the mistreatment animals face around the island, he said.
Nevertheless, Felipe Mercado’s expressions are not the same as Animal Legal Defense Foundation’s report. According to 2011 report, the last five years (2006-2011) the abuse to animals in Puerto Rico has been controlled by 91 percent.
“Doing this to animals makes me feel a better person and I know that those who I find them a good place and now are healthy and happy never are going to forget who I am and what I did for them,” concluded Mercado.