Ricardo Pimentel’s social media post went viral, leading to a fundraising boost for Tierra de Animales shelter, which he founded nearly a decade ago.

There were plenty of other critters too: Dozens of cats were harbored in his son’s room; his daughter’s room served as a refuge for chicks, bunnies and even a hedgehog; a patio became a haven for a flock of sheep.

Not surprisingly, the house smelled terrible, he says. But it was worth it: All survived the storm.

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“It doesn’t matter if the house is dirty, it can be cleaned,” he says. “The things they broke can be fixed or bought again, but what’s beautiful is to see them happy, healthy and safe, without wounds and with the possibility of being adopted.”

It all started with an Oct. 6 social media post. Pimentel told friends he had cut branches and boarded up windows at the Tierra de Animales (Land of Animals) shelter he founded nearly a decade ago about 20 miles southwest of Cancun, where he also lives with his family.

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He warned of the hurricane’s devastating power. Concerned that stores might remain shut after the storm, leading to food shortages, he asked for donations.

“If I lived with just 10 or 20 dogs, I wouldn’t worry much, but here we have hundreds of animals and we can’t afford the luxury of not having enough food,” he said.

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To keep the animals safe from the impending storm, he moved them inside. It took hours to lead the hundreds of canines indoors by leash.

A subsequent online post included photos of what looked like a carpet in his hallway. A closer look revealed that the carpet was alive — many, many dogs, crowded together. The post was shared widely on social media and grabbed headlines across the globe.

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