The Low Down On Local Animal Shelters

They could use a hand

I love dogs. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a dog of my own or shared a dog with my family. I had a German Shepherd-Collie mix, a miniature schnauzer, a cocker my adult life, I had a long succession of beautiful German Shepherd Dogs. I loved them all.

A little over a year ago, I lost my last dog, a beautiful purebred female. It was a very traumatic experience losing Evie, because she was so loving, so loyal and so protective. She had a very playful, mischievous nature, and I often thought she could read my mind.

Circumstances following that loss precluded me from having a dog for over a year. Once the situation improved, I was convinced to rescue a dog from a shelter or from the street, rather than to patronize a kennel, which I had done in all the cases of procuring my dog.

Well, the first rescue dog I got was a medium sized female mutt who was already seven years old when she was rescued by a woman who helps animals. When she found Natasha, she was close to death, starving and suffering from numerous diseases. A local Ensenada veterinarian took Natasha in, provided medication and grooming, and after an intensive seven months of care, declared that she was ready for adoption.

I took Natasha in, and soon learned to my shock and dismay that she was epileptic. She was sleeping on my kitchen floor when suddenly she began having a seizure, shaking violently and foaming at the mouth. When the seizure was finally over, she was so disoriented that she began running through the house, banging into things, knocking over furniture and hitting her head against the wall.  It was horrible.

I contacted the vet, who provided me with anti-seizure medication and told me that the cause of the seizures was possibly due to a hormonal imbalance which might be resolved after she was spayed. Unfortunately, the seizures continued after that procedure, and, in fact, got even worse.  The last day I had Natasha, she had four seizures in one day. My house and garden were disasters and I was an emotional wreck.

My next attempt at finding a canine companion was equally heartbreaking, if not more so.

My best friend found a seven week old puppy on the street, so malnourished that it could barely walk. He took the pup to a vet, who gave it a flea bath and the usual series of shots, plus worm medication. My friend gave the dog to me, and I named the little guy “Buggs.” He was cute as a bug, and not much bigger than a well nourished cockroach.

The little guy was so full of energy, so determined to be part of everything, and so full of love and gratitude for being rescued from the street, that I bonded with him immediately.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon was short lived. At first Buggs began showing signs of losing coordination. His back legs started getting gimpy. Then he would start shaking for no reason. Eventually, Buggs also became the victim of violent seizures, and had to be put down rather than prolong his suffering.

The point of all this is that there is an animal rights disaster in Baja. I can understand man’s inhumanity to man, because people go to war with each other to steal other people’s land for strategic reasons or for natural resources to be exploited. But why be cruel to animals? All they want is to live and love and eat and poop, the politics be damned.

When I first moved to Ensenada, I read in one of the local papers that more than 4,000 dogs were euthanized annually in this city alone. And that doesn’t account for the thousands of dogs roaming the streets, breeding, starving, dying for a little TLC and getting abused or neglected instead. I’ve seen starving female dogs that are barely skin and bone trying to run away from their newborn puppies because they don’t have enough nourishment to keep themselves alive, let alone their hungry pups. If they’re old enough, the pups stagger after them.

There are numerous dog rescue facilities that provide shelter, medication, neuter and spaying services, and that attempt to find homes for the critters they save. Some are large facilities while others are individuals who provide as much care as they can from their private homes; almost all of them have websites to help place the dogs in foster or permanent homes. They do not use the power of this paper to find homes, (it costs nothing), some of them because they don’t like the tone of the paper, some because they just can’t get themselves organized to send in a picture of the animal.

The problem is huge and there is no quick and easy solution. However, if everyone would give a little time or a little money, the suffering could be greatly reduced. Volunteer at any one of the shelters or rescue missions, or donate money or food to help support their cause. Rescue any animal you can and take it to a shelter. Or take a picture and send it to and she will post it for you. These animals almost always get taken, especially if there is a compelling story with the prospective pet.

Here’s a partial list of shelters whose proprietors make every effort to rescue, heal and find homes for homeless and/or abused dogs:

Baja Animal Sanctuary in Rosarito, a “no kill” shelter.

Paw Prints Baja Animal Sanctuary, with headquarters in San Diego.

Baja Dog Rescue, also HQ’d in SD, specializing in “Pets for Patriots,” bringing service   dogs home from overseas deployments.

Many individual vetinarians participate in free spay and neuter programs and offer immunization services as well. All of them are concerned for the welfare of animals, and do whatever they can to improve the situation; many of them are involved in finding homes in the U.S. for the animals they have rescued.

There are only 2 dog pounds in northern Baja; one is in Ensenada and the other in Tijuana. These establishments do put down animals that aren’t adopted or retrieved within a certain period of time.

Please be kind to animals.