Laura Raikes – President / Founder
Since Laura was a young girl she would help her dad in farming and started rescuing all kinds of animals from bats to dogs, cats and even bottle feeding goats and lambs. One of the rescued cats was Igor who had only one eye after an attack by a crow. He is still a much-loved family pet back home in Wales.After moving to Mexico her cat Coco was run over, as many of the drivers in Mexico see cats as a pest and make no attempt to avoid them if they see them on the road. Laura decided she wanted to help address the problem of too many stray cats in Mexico, which leads them to be cruelly treated. A week after Coco's death, Laura heard a distressed kitten in the jungle. She rescued him and named him Rambo. Ever since that first kitten rescue, Laura has continued her work rescuing kittens and spaying/neutering feral cats in an effort to help the animal population in the Riviera Maya. Each kitten that is rescued is in dedication to her very own lost pet, Coco. Also working on reducing the population, Laura began a spay and neuter clinic working with Kelley Anthony and veterinarian Claudia Lewy to spay and neuter feral cats, rescued kittens, and pets whose owners simply couldn't afford to sterilize their cats. Laura realized more needed to be done and asked for support from more vets. Before long, seven vets in Playa were volunteering in the spay/neuter program for cats organized by Laura. As the support grew for the project, Laura began to meet many other dedicated volunteers and saw the need and opportunity for something bigger. Therefore, in dedication to Coco, Coco's Cat Rescue was created.
Maureen and her husband Joe are part-time residents in Playa del Carmen. Maureen has been involved with Coco's since it was just an idea. She assists with cleaning, cuddling kittens, fostering, fundraising, assisting with events, and chaperoning kittens to the US.
Back in Chicago, Maureen works as a caretaker to a developmentally-disabled little girl and her brother. She volunteers with the Animal Welfare League, cleaning, caring, and promoting adoptions for Animal Welfare cats that reside in Petco Stores.
Maureen & Joe's family, Alicia, Jim, Al & their Mexican-born granddaughter, Leila, reside in Playa full time. They have two crazy dogd, Augie & Betsy, and a thriving Cat Colony at their home in Playa.
Robert B SulzmanA graduate of the US Naval School of Nuclear Engineering, Rob is a computer and software engineer living in Lantana, Texas (Dallas-Ft. Worth area). He was one of the founders and developers of Job.com – one of the largest career websites on the internet. Currently the Chief Technology Officer of TKL Interactive, Inc., Rob spends most of his free time working with his wife Jeri with different animal rescue organizations. Previously, he was the Vice President of the Fredericksburg SPCA in Fredericksburg., VA. More recently he has served as the Vice President and briefly the President of the Coppell Humane Society in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. As an active member of the Coppell Humane Society, Rob has worked with his wife to create a relationship with the Double Oak Veterinary Medical Center allowing the fostering (currently) of over 80 cats and a few dogs. He also provides logistical and financial support for several local animal organizations and shelters. In addition, he was one of the driving forces providing resources and finances for the creation of the CoCo's Rescue Clinic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Rob has a special interest in exotic cats and hopes to create a habitat environment to be able to foster young and recovering large cats prior to relocation to wildlife refuges.
Jeri R. SulzmanJeri currently is employed by the Double Oak Veterinary Medical Center as the Office Manager and head veterinary technician. A graduate of Cedar Valley College in Dallas, she is a certified veterinary technician. In her 17 year career she has worked for many different animal hospitals and clinics and has extensive and varied experience in animal health management. In the past she has even operated a pet sitting business for several years. One of the high points of her career was serving as an Emergency Veterinary Technician at the North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic, assisting with everything from basic first aid to complex surgeries. In addition to her work as a Veterinary Technician, Jeri is also actively involved in animal rescue with the Coppell Humane Society as well as providing advice and support to other area groups such as DFW Labrador Rescue and the Cocker Spaniel Rescue of Dallas. She also provides medical advice and assistance to several local shelters including the Denton Animal Shelter in Denton, Texas. One of her future goals is to purchase acreage and create a kennel and environment to rescue and rehabilitate dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Sherry StevensBorn and raised in Evansville, Indiana, Sherry studied Interior Design, Graphics and Marketing at the University of Kentucky and competed in Championship level equestrian events. Upon graduation, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia to begin her own mail order company, Scintilla, representing designers and craftsmen of artisan lighting, home décor and jewelry. Looking for a change of lifestyle, Sherry moved to Playa del Carmen in 2001 where she co-owns a web based travel planning company and works as a Real Estate Advisor in the Riviera Maya. Sherry has always been passionate about animals and dedicates herself to supporting local animal efforts. When she arrived in Playa del Carmen in 2001, the street animal crisis was heartbreaking. Luckily, in 2001 she read a small article in a National Geographic magazine about YARF. Yucatan Animal Rescue Foundation. She got involved right away. The next year YARF dismantled and ViDAS was born. She soon became the Playa del Carmen organizer for the annual ViDAS clinic, and has never looked back. When Coco's Cat Rescue A.C. was born in March of 2009, she became involved immediately. Sherry's commitment, goals and connection to the local community where Coco's and ViDAS does their work, makes her a helpful addition to both organizations boards.