Nosara, Nature

Meet Nosara Animal Care’s New Director

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“I live with eight dogs and thirteen cats and I love it. Running the Nosara Animal Care program and shelter is the job I was born to do” says Jeanette Johnstone, the new Director of Nosara Animal Care. 

Johnstone has joined forces with Diane Bryant, the newly-elected president of Nosara Animal Care, and the two of them are moving the organization forward to meet new challenges.

Johnstone arrived in Nosara in November 2013 to replace former Director Sarah Foster, who is now rescuing and rehabilitating animals in South Africa. Jeanette lives with her partner Dan Peltier at the the Nosara Animal Care shelter in Pelada. She first visited Nosara in 2012.

“I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor bottle-feeding kittens and when I got home I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand the city anymore and hated the Canadian winters. When Sarah said she was looking for a replacement I knew I was meant to be here”.

A long-time veterinarian technician, Johnstone convinced partner Peltier to move to Nosara sight-unseen. Jeanette receives a small stipend from Nosara Animal Care, but the couple pay rent and utilities to live at the shelter and are also buying a vehicle, which they need to transport animals to and from Safari Medical. Toward this end, Peltier  hopes to pick up some consulting work building websites and troubleshooting computer problems. Jeanette hopes to moonlight a bit; she is a certified and experienced dog trainer. 

The shelter is adding a second dog pen and looking for donations to construct an outdoor snake-proof pen for cats and kittens. The shelter does not turn animals away and only euthanizes those animals that cannot be rehabilitated. 

“Sometimes an animal is very sick,” saysJohnstone, “and we know that despite our best efforts their chances of survival are very low, and they are suffering…that’s when we have to make the tough decisions.  These decisions are always made through consulting with the veterinarian, even going to specialists if the situation requires it.  This past Christmas, with help from a friend, we drove a puppy to San Jose to get x-rays and see a specialist because she was hit by a car and we didn’t know if she could have surgery or not.  It turned out she broke her pelvis in 6 places, and her leg in 2 places.  She also had nerve damage to her bowels.  In this case her chance of recovery after surgery (if she even survived the procedures) was very very low.  It was more humane to end her suffering.  The point is that we always try our best and fight for them, but sometimes it is out of our control”.

“Train the Trainer” and Educate the Human

In addition to rescue and adoption programs, and the expansion of its facilities, Nosara Animal Care is conducting “train the trainer” workshops for its humane education program which is taught in local schools.

Nosara Animal Care is looking for a special donation of funds for a projector to use in these school presentations. In the future, spay and neuter clinics will be scheduled to coincide with human education training.

“Children can learn about proper pet care and then bring the family pet to a clinic held in their neighborhood around the same time” says Johnstone. The next spay/neuter clinic, where animals may also receive vaccinations and other medical care, will be held at Serapio Lopez School on March 22nd and in Marbella on April 26th.  Services are provided at a greatly reduced rate, in order to target low-income pet-owners in our community.

“The impact of these clinics is significant. A total of 247 animals were sterilized in 2013” says President Diane Bryant.

Donations may be made directly through the Nosara Animal Care website or via the Friends of Nosara website. Additionally, a new “member” and “patron” designation for donors of $50.00 and $200.00 annually provides donors with a medallion recognizing their generosity. 

“We have a Business Partner designation as well” says Bryant .  “Business prospers in Nosara with increased tourism, and tourists do not want to see animals suffering. I think business owners appreciate the positive impact Nosara Animal Care has had on the tourism industry”.

Johnstone encourages people who find hurt, sick, or abandoned dogs or cats to call her on her cell phone at 8948-6743. She will pick up the animal and prefers that people not deliver animals directly to the shelter to ensure that new patients are well-planned for and not “dropped off” without any exchange of information. People may also call Jeanette for emergency assistance until a veterinarian arrives.

Animals are previewed for adoption on the Nosara Animal Care Facebook page at


*Linda Tarlow is the Founder of the Nosara Food Bank and an active member of the Nosara community