A Western New York native, living in Colombia, is now home and sharing her story of helping animals there in need. 

Maureen Cattieu has been teaching English in the country for several years, but noticed there was a real problem in Colombia as soon as she arrived. She witnessed countless abused animals on the streets, that needed help.

“We’ve had machete wounds, machetes to the face, hot acid thrown on dogs, just abuse and neglect, or dogs suffering with distemper and left for dead,” she said. “We’ve seen it all. There are people that have pets, but at least with the poverty in the areas of Cartagena, it’s hard to think of taking care of an animal, when you might not have enough for your kids.”

So, four years ago, she started a non-profit called Cartagena Paws, which helps save these animals and get them adopted. 

Today, News 4 met with Maureen at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. She flew into town with a dog, Morris, she saved in July. 

“He was found collapsed next to a gas station, he had half of his bone in his leg out of his body, which meant nerves were exposed, but he was so weak when we got him to the vet that we couldn’t do surgery,” she said. 

Cattieu said once Morris was strong enough, vets were forced to amputate his leg. 

She nursed him back to help, and was finally ready to put him up for adoption. 

Maureen flew with Morris to Buffalo, where she met his new owner, Luis Balbosa. 

“I had some idea of his personality from seeing him on Facebook, but this is the first time I met him in person,” Balbosa said. 

Luis and his partner have adopted several dogs with special needs. He says these animals have so much to give, even when they’ve been given so little by others. 

“They’re just the sweetest animals,” he said. “And when you take them off the streets, and see how sweet they still are, despite the way some people treat them, it just shows you what they have to give if you’re nice to them.”

Maureen says about 40 of the animals she’s saved have gone to WNY families. For more information on Cartagena Paws, click here.