Sandy Paws: Let’s Build an Animal Sanctuary in Bocas del Toro

Shana Dominique is a young lady with a huge heart and just as big of an idea: to build an animal sanctuary in  Bocas del Toro.

This is a long-term project that could really have a positive impact on our community. Here is what Shana had to say when first introducing her idea to the community via the Bocas Open Forum / Foro Abierto on Facebook:

“I’m Shana, I think you might know me, I’m a 17 year old Panamanian and lived all my life on the island.I go to the Rogelio Ibarra high school. Loving and caring for animals is a big part of my life since I’m little. Covid gave me a lot of time to think and the final push. I will build a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Bocas. Street animals will have a safe place to recover while we look for a forever home. As with everything in the world, it is only possible with money and therefore, I ask you for Donations. Thank you for taking the time to read my website.

PS: I just created a GoGetFunding you can also find the link on the sandy paws website.”

a photo of a hungry street dog in Bocas

Hungry street dogs like this are the inspiration for Shana to build an animal sanctuary in Bocas del Toro called Sandy Paws.

We reached out to Shana and she told us more about her action plan to make this dream a reality. She plans to structure her fundraising in three key phases:

1. Become an official non-profit organization in Panama. Shana hopes to find a lawyer that is not charge too much for this work.

2. Buy the land. She is hoping the city has a cheap plot of land she can buy, lease or rent.

3. Start building Sandy Paws; an animal sanctuary for Bocas del Toro.

Shana is a student at the Colegio Rogelio Josué Ibarra. She has received a lot of support from “La Profe” Virginia Vásquez and school principal Dora Reina. “They are always there for me when I need advice,” Shana tells us. Virginia Vásquez has even offered her office as a place where people can leave cash donations. Her office is located on 1st street, Isla Colon, next to the police station. Shana would also like to thank her friend Aldemar Mitchell for helping her with any questions she’s had.

When Shana first announced her big dream of an animal sanctuary in Bocas, she received a whole lot of encouraging commentary from the community and some of the first contributions to the project. We’d like to help her to continue spreading the message. We encourage you to visit the websites she has created, donate what you can, support her with advice on how to get more funding, collaborate with her on this effort and share this article so others can get involved!

a photo of Shana Dominique and her dog. both are wearing hats.


The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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