Get to know us

WHO WE ARE

Natalia Hanson

Co-Founder

Natalia is a self-proclaimed cat lady and queen of cat puns. Her true passion in life is helping animals and she’s a tireless advocate of spaying/neutering and adoption. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Natalia moved to Canada to study veterinary assistance and later on public relations. She’s happy to call Canada home MEOW but she’s still not a fan old these cold, harsh winters.

Natalia dreams of turning this passion project (HOLA) into her life’s work and dedicate herself fully to organizing outreach campaigns throughout Latin America to bring help to animals and communities who need it the most.

Melissa Bennett

Co-Founder

Melissa has been bringing stray animals home since she could walk. An avid animal lover, Melissa began her career working at a local SPCA. While her role was in fundraising and communications, she often fostered young animals while they awaited spay/neuter or needed time to heal outside the shelter environment from a minor illnesses.

Interested in learning about these “spaycations” her colleagues were often taking, Melissa engaged Natalia in the idea of a small spay/neuter campaign during their 2018 Colombia trip. Amazed at how low the cost is for quality veterinary care, HOLA is now a passion that’s just getting started.

OUR STORY

ABOUT HOLA

Humane Outreach for Latin Animals was born of a desire to do good for animals in areas where they need it most.

Natalia, originally from Bogotá, Colombia has always known first hand how dire the need is for spay/neuter initiatives in her home country in order to tackle the overwhelming amount of unwanted, stray animals. Animal welfare is not yet a priority in some Latin countries.

Melissa, a long-time employee of a local SPCA was looking for opportunities to help animals outside of her local community, where she fosters, volunteers and donates to animal welfare organizations.

In late 2018, Natalia and Melissa started a trial fundraising campaign and began to raise funds for spay/neuter surgeries in Villa de Leyva, Colombia, in partnership with a regional animal foundation. They raised $2,300 CAD in a month, and the funds were distributed for spay/neuter and rescue initiatives in three Colombian cities.

Seeing the success of the Villa de Leyva campaign and inspired by the warm fuzzy feeling of making a difference, Natalia and Melissa got busy and started planning a second, much-bigger campaign, this time in a different community, Cartagena. With a goal of helping 400 animals, they were pleased to improve the lives of 867 animals through spay/neuter and wellness treatments. 

The 2022 campaign is live now and HOLA needs your support! Find out how you can get involved today.

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