What’s Up With El Ranchito?

That’s a term of endearment for El Rancho, or Little Ranch.

In the 1964 Rankin/Bass Productions stop-motion "Animagic" Christmas television special, other reindeers make fun of Rudolph and his red nose, so Rudolph runs away with an elf who dreams of becoming a dentist. Their journey leads them to the Island of Misfit Toys, where toys go when they are abandoned by their owners. 

In Los Cabos in 2010, two young girls with a dream created El Ranchito, a non-profit organization to help and provide transitional homes and potential adoptive families for misfit dogs. Those non-typical puppies and rare older canines with only one eye, a leg missing, as well as the unfortunate few that have been discarded because of their slight imperfections and or injuries, were the girls' focus. 

Nereyda Rivera and Mariana Badillo discovered a dying and terribly injured dog in a dumpster and named him Max. Taking the poor little lost soul home, they nurtured and cared for the canine and all his bloody injuries until he recovered both physically and emotionally.

This incident changed the two young women and they set themselves on a path to do something about similar dogs who are thrown to the street struggling to survive. They became the founders of El Ranchito in San Jose del Cabo.

El Ranchito (The Little Ranch) gives a second chance to seriously abused, injured, and neglected dogs. These dogs require extensive medical treatment, care, and/or social rehabilitation before they are ready for adoption.

It is a "No Kill" home for dogs that serves as a temporary home until they are adopted. El Ranchito also promotes spay and neuter, adopting vs. buying, and participates with free clinics regularly in an effort to decrease the number of unwanted pets via their non-profit organization mantra, ''Changing Lives - A few dogs at a time.''

El Ranchito was not set up to be a general shelter. It is not equipped and does not have the capacity to take in owner surrenders or strays. Each dog is accepted based on its history and those accepted are not euthanized in order to make room for new residents. The only way more dogs can be taken in is if the old residents are adopted. The adoption process/application must be approved and comes with a fee of 1,000 pesos, or about $50 bucks. All dogs at El Ranchito are spayed and/or neutered prior to adoption.

El Ranchito was originally created to help approximately 15 dogs at a time. Now it has reached a maximum capacity of 40 dogs. People who come to visit El Ranchito are advised not to expect a building with offices, clinics, and a bunch of healthy dogs ready for a new home.

"Perhaps someday, but not yet," said Nereyda Rivera. "We are funded entirely by donations. Our volunteer list is small, but we are very hardworking and devoted to our cause. You can be part of making a world of difference by adopting, donating, volunteering, or simply let others know about El Ranchito," she added. 

Part of the property is still fenced with old pallets and plywood gates are closed or opened with wire. Medications, shampoos, supplies and instruments are kept in a couple of plastic totes. The freshwater tank is filled with water supplied through a garden hose from a generous neighbor's house a couple of hundred feet away. Even after 10 years, these devoted canine caretakers, are working under very humble surroundings. 

"It takes just a little while to see the appreciation and gratitude in the eyes of each dog, and when you see it, you understand that to them, this place is a paradise," noted Rivera. "Their physical pain has diminished, their emotional suffering has ended, they no longer feel the pangs of hunger or thirst. And even more importantly, they feel loved and accepted. To them, they are at the best place in the world and they are at a point where they trust people again. Hopefully, each one of them can go on to the next level and experience having a family of their own, but until then this is as good it gets."

Thanks to some very generous donations by some amazing people, El Ranchito is currently constructing a concrete slab and kennels, with hopes of adding a first-aid station. The very humble and modest non-profit organization could always use donated materials to further their stretch their donated dollars, and it welcomes any cement and/or cinder blocks by individuals or construction companies wishing to further their dog saving cause. 

"We are always in need of dog food, treats, medications, shampoos, cleaning supplies, bleach, soap, towels, sanitizing hand cleaner, and either paper or cloth towels" mentioned Nereyda. Dogs that never get adopted will live out their lives at the El Ranchito.

Donations can be dropped off at PeluDogs Grooming Salon or The Caboholics Store in Cabo San Lucas at Cabo Cantina. Donations may be made directly by depositing into bank account: Nereyda Rivera Gamboa at Banamex # 5534866 or by depositing money at any Oxxo to the Banamex card # 5204-1652-1509-0493. You can also deposit money via Paypal at https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/ELRANCHITOCABO. The El Ranchito office phone number is (624) 129-0932. 

Nereyda Rivera speaks limited English and her staff of volunteers are always ready to help. It’s nice to remember that the language of love and caring for the less fortunate has no boundaries.