It’s a goal for many to discover their life’s passion. Some are fortunate enough to find what makes their heart sing to help others and animals…
However, when passion meets purpose, that’s when you know you’ve hit the ultimate jackpot. “This is my life and the promise I made to a dog that I loved as a child,” says Chella Melnechuk. “It’s the promise to be the voice that she didn’t have.”
Chella opened the doors to Pawtcake Refuge Inc. in Nassau a year ago. As a devoted animal welfare and rescue advocate, she currently has more than 25 dogs residing at her refuge and has pulled nearly 100 homeless dogs from the streets in the past year.
“This includes the ones that were too sick to survive and the lucky ones who were adopted in the states. I do this all on my own,” states, Chella.
Running a refuge has been a dream of Chella’s since she was a young girl living in Peru. She tells the story of when her parents gave away her family dog and how it shattered her heart. “On this day I swore that I would help save other dogs because I simply could not save my own,” explains Chella. “This dog became my legacy so other dogs could have what she could not.”
So how does Chella find the motivation to run this wide scale operation without assistance? She says the motivation comes through the heartbreak she sees in the eyes of these precious souls of the rescue animals.
“They are all my children and whatever they feel, I feel,” begins Chella. “It breaks my heart when I can’t save one because you can’t save them all. When they die, I bury them in the graves I dig with my bare hands while trying to stop the pain I feel inside. Every time I think I cannot do this anymore, I find the strength to get up and continue for the sake of the others.”
One by one she makes a life-changing difference and remarkable transformation with the rescue animals.
Henri lived his entire life in the same location along a crowded Nassau street. He was terrified, hungry and gravely ill. As hundreds passed him by on their way to work, ignoring his stench and horrendous appearance from the mange that had taken over his body, Chella picked up his broken soul.
“He is one of the fortunate ones that was able to leave the streets of the Bahamas and found the most amazing home in New York where he lives now,” explains Chella.
This is Henri today.
“My dream and goal would be to stop the over population of stray dogs and educate children from a young age to respect and care for animals,” says Chella. She adds that, like many causes, the work can be overwhelming and having additional support is key.
Chella says, “I have been fortunate to work with some amazing rescues in the states, but I would love to find more rescues willing to help me and animal lovers willing to donate. The refuge is run solely on donations and the funds are used for food, vetting care and the day-to-day operations, including transportation of my homeless out of the Bahamas and into their forever homes.”