Cuenca Expats Magazine, Special Issue

Photos: Teresa Drake

When you walk the streets of Cuenca and surrounding areas you are greeted with beautiful vistas, architecture, and unfortunately, lots of stray dogs. Huskies, Doberman’s, Heinz 57 and all kinds of other mixes. These are dogs that people have tossed aside or have let wander the streets. They are uncared for, unloved, hungry, sick, abused, and in some cases, extremely aggressive. What are these animals to do? There is a safe haven for a lucky few that cross the paths of the volunteers at Fundacion Peluditos Cuenca.

According to Miriam Lucia Espinoza Teran, who goes by Lucia, one of the volunteers, the Fundacion Peluditos Cuenca has been in business for approximately eight years. It is run by Executive Director, Martha Parra Ayore and Gustavo Alvarado who is in charge of maintenance of the shelters, feeding, and bathing the rescued dogs. It has approximately 25 volunteers that help with the feeding, maintenance, and welfare of the animals. They have a veterinarian who provides medical services as needed and allows them to make payments. It was her love of animals and wanting to do something that got Lucia involved and she has now been with them for approximately five years. Some of the dogs they have rescued have been thrown out of car windows and run over by another car as they chased the car containing their owner.

Some have been beaten or in dog fights or left lying by the side of the road sick and dying. When they see these animals, the Fundacion volunteers bring them to the shelter and try to save them.

At the moment, they have no more room for any additional animals; however, that does not mean they won’t help an animal that they see really needs their help.

The Fundacion has two shelters currently in operation. They are the only legally incorporated and operating animal rescue in Cuenca. Their name is recognized and registered. They have a board of directors, of which a few of the members are attorneys, and all the registered paperwork. Currently, they are renting two properties to house the animals. They are hoping to obtain a large property that can hold all the animals, have viewing areas and have their own clinic.

Lucia said that before the pandemic, they raised money by holding fundraisers and adoption events every 15 days or so in Parque de Pariso, but now they are mostly virtual. There have not been any recent events held. In order to help with the finances of the Fundacion, they are now marketing shampoos, dog tags, collars, dog clothing and such.

 The operating hours of the shop are Monday to Friday 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. They are located on Mariscal Sucre and Vargas Machuca next to the agency Sur Express. When they are there, a sign with painted paws on it is out front as well as tags, collars and such. People are under the impression that they should be offering free spaying and neutering for the animals, but that is something they are not financially able to do so at this time.


Additionally, the locations of the shelters have to be kept secret due to people just dumping animals off, poisoning the animals or assaulting and injuring them. Currently, both shelters are full of both big dogs, little dogs and those with special needs, such as using a wheelchair/cart for the hind legs so they can walk. The special needs animals are harder to place in a home, but they will keep them until a suitable home is found for them.

Before the pandemic, people were donating $15 or so to help with food or the maintenance and care of the animals. 

The only person being paid for his time is Gustavo who lives on one of the properties to make sure the animals with special needs are kept under observation and have immediate help should the need arise. All other members, including the board of directions, are volunteers. Currently, there is a big need for food for the dogs, and if people are interested in donating food or making a monetary donation, or if people are interested in seeing a dog for possible adoption, they can go to their Facebook page, Fundacion Peluditos. If there is one they would like to see, they can call the foundation at 099-561-9212, contact them via email at

If the animals at Fundacion Peluditos could talk, they would say, “Won’t you please take us home? We have so much love to give and we want to give it to YOU!” If you can help keep this safe haven going and prevent these animals from dying a slow and painful death on the streets, won’t you please contact the Fundacion today.