I have spent several weekends volunteering with the Humane Society of Tijuana, an incredible grass roots organization. In the States, we have thousands of well organized rescue groups who have access to funding, PR, and hope. In Mexico, a short hop across the border, there are no such resources. It started with one man who wanted to make life better for the street dogs and cats, and has grown solely through the efforts of volunteers to be a great success in helping animals in need. Unlike here, Tijuana does not have shelters. They have streets. The HSTJ works through volunteers to get these pets fixed and dewormed so the local families who feed them might be more willing to adopt them. They have also recently branched out into trying to get these pets adopted in the States.
What is amazing to me is the selflessness of the volunteers. I mean, that is the case no matter where you go, but it’s so pronounced in Mexico, where people living in poverty we cannot comprehend do not hesitate to give all they have for these street pets. It makes me want to do better. And on that note, I am proud to share a guest post by my friend, and board member of HSTJ, Dr. Sarah, talking about one of the many incredible families in Mexico helping to make life better for dogs and cats:
There are many heroes to the animals that FHSTJ/HSTJ has found along our journey, but few have a story as inspiring as that of Enrique and Beatriz. This young couple lives in Tecolote, which is a neighborhood located southeast of Tijuana. Enrique works as a night watchman. In addition to caring for their three-year-old daughter, Iris, Beatriz makes decorative candies and sells them to the neighboring communities.
Four years ago, Beatriz and Enrique married and bought their small plot of land in Tecolote with the vision of beginning a family. Soon afterward, they were expecting their first child. However, Beatriz had a difficult pregnancy, and her doctor informed her she was in danger of losing her baby. Suddenly, she found herself with a protective, maternal feeling like none she had ever experienced.
“Some women experience cravings for food. What I experienced was a craving to help animals,” said Beatriz.
They began rescuing dogs from among the hundreds of homeless animals present in the streets around their home. Soon, the people in the surrounding community noticed their generosity and began abandoning animals in front of their house. Before they knew it, they were completely overrun with street dogs. When Iris was born, the couple struggled to care for all the animals in addition to their daughter.
“There have been times that we had to choose between the pediatrician and the veterinarian. Our baby was sick, our dogs were sick, and we couldn’t afford to care for them all.”
Infectious diseases began to plague their dogs, and many unfortunately died. The family mourned the loss of their family members and buried each of them with care. Finally, Enrique had an idea. He found an internet café and began to e-mail every animal rescue organization he could find in Mexico in search of help. His e-mail was forwarded from the Humane Society in Mexico City to Lety Coto, the HSTJ president.
Upon hearing they had rescued over 100 street dogs, and that there were currently over 40 dogs at Beatriz and Enrique’s house, Lety was concerned for this family. However, when she visited, she was pleasantly surprised at what she found.
“There were over 40 dogs there, yes, but they were in wonderful condition. They were taking extremely good care of them!”
Lety quickly summoned support from the rest of HSTJ and held an Itchy Scratchy clinic for Beatriz and Enrique’s dogs in order to treat parasites. Shortly thereafter, a small sterilization clinic was held nearby to neuter all the male animals. With continued support from HSTJ, the dogs are still being treated for parasites, sterilized, vaccinated, and transported across the border for adoption into loving homes.
In return, Beatriz and Enrique have committed to helping our organization. Beatriz has been intimately involved with the dogs FHSTJ/HSTJ rescued from a hoarding case last February. She has dutifully helped to care for these animals while they have been rotated out of Tijuana and placed into homes in the U.S.
This family has asked for nothing from HSTJ and FHSTJ other than help in their endeavor to rescue the thousands of sentient creatures roaming the streets of Tijuana – a mission that was already a primary goal for our organization. However, their humility and devotion to the animals has touched the hearts of many of us, and we wish to do even more to help the struggling family.
The family lives in a one-room shanty with a dirt floor. Their roof is comprised of a tarp, and their front door is simply a curtain. There is no running water, electricity, or plumbing. Outside, in the midst of their exuberant pack of dogs, is a small garden where they grow their own food in a makeshift planter created from an old refrigerator. The last four years, all of their spare time and resources have been committed to caring for the dogs. Enrique keeps impeccable records on supplements and parasite treatments for each of their dogs (currently numbering 34). Beatriz and Enrique know each of their dogs’ names by heart, as the animals are considered part of their family.
Several American volunteers wish to raise the money to build the family a better home on their modest plot of land. Few people, whether American, Mexican, rich, or poor, possess the caring and compassion for animals that this family does. For all of their sacrifices and commitment to helping the animals, we feel they deserve help improving their own quality of life.
Our goal is to raise $3000 to help this deserving family build a house – one with a floor, a roof, and a front door. In return, they have committed to being a permanent rescue facilitator for HSTJ. Project Mercy, another non-profit organization, has committed to helping Friends of HSTJ in this endeavor. An anonymous donor has already generously contributed $2000, so we have $1000 left to raise. Can you help us? Donations for this project can be made to the Friends of Humane Society de Tijuana via our cause on facebook or our website at http://www.friendsofhstj.org/OneTimeDonation.html.