Thursday, February 26, 2009

HSTJ Responds to the Needs of the Animals of Tijuana

This past Sunday, February 22nd, HSTJ volunteers visited the second location of Edward Coward, the man found to be hoarding 157 dogs in two locations of Tijuana (a link to the article is below).

I personally believe that Mr. Coward's intentions were in the right place, however the so-called act of kindness was very poorly executed as he became overwhelmed and lost control of the situation.

As a result of mass publicity and the help of rescue groups, 80% of these animals have been adopted out. However, the conditions of the animals that remained were horrible.

HSTJ arrived to conduct a street clinic on these animals and treat them for mange, parasites and conducted general health checks. All else considered, these animals were in fairly good condition. Through HSTJ contacts, we were able to find a temporary location for these animals and after administering vaccines, we moved 30 dogs to our temporary location.

In the next few weeks, as we get these animals cleaned up, treated and sterilized, I will be compiling information on these 30 animals, photos and behavior summaries, in order to get these dogs fostered and adopted out. We need your help to care for and find homes for these animals. Please help spread the word amongst your contacts and networks about the plight of these animals and the work of HSTJ. The goal is to find these animals forever homes that they so deserve.

Because of your generous donations through the food drive, we were able to deliver 2000 pounds of food to HSTJ that was distributed at the Street Clinic, also conducted on Sunday, in a separate location called Salvatierra, where HSTJ processed over 200 dogs and cats.

This food will also be used to care for our new rescues of the hoarding situation.

However, your continued support is very much needed to sustain this rescue situation.

We urge you to become a sponsor today!

We need your support to continue our efforts in Tijuana. You can become a sponsor for as little as $5 a month. Please visit the web site to sign up through paypal to become a sponsor today, please click here:

Here is a link to the article in the Union Tribune

Breaking News in Tijuana - 157 dogs found in house

157 dogs found in house
Playwright says rescuing stray animals has taken over his life
By Sandra Dibble
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. February 21, 2009

Prize-winning playwright Edward Coward hugged one of his many dogs outside his home in south Tijuana. (Bruce K. Huff / Union-Tribune) -

TIJUANA — As a leading Baja California playwright, Edward Coward has won prizes and much critical praise for his powerful, heartrending pieces. But now he is at the center of an all-too-real saga featuring the plight of the city's abandoned dogs.
The 42-year-old Tijuana native has been the target of both fury and praise since the discovery of 157 canines crammed inside a three-bedroom house he rented in the comfortable middle-class neighborhood of El Mirador. Scenes of filth and overcrowding have been playing out on newscasts since Feb. 13, when state health officials raided the residence and municipal workers seized the dogs.
“I cannot stand to see an animal looking for help,” Coward said in an interview this week, at a second house on a hilltop across the city in Colinas del Sol, where he has been keeping 25 dogs. “Once you've opened your eyes to the problem, you can't close them anymore.”
Animal rescue advocates say the incident has at least forced discussion of a difficult issue: what to do with Tijuana's large population of street dogs, which one official estimated could number 300,000.
“There is little culture in the city for the respect and care of animals,” said Javier Castañeda Pomposo, Tijuana's secretary of social development. “We need to start following the lead of other cities and states.”
Leticia Coto, head of the Humane Society de Tijuana, says the solution involves licensing, adoption and sterilization programs, but also a change in attitude: “To this day, we fail to see dogs as living beings. There are many people who take better care of their car than of their dog.”
Neighbors increasingly fed up with the stench and sound of the animals in both neighborhoods where Coward has lived have little sympathy for him, saying he is eccentric, and even crazy.
Manuel Morales Riubi, head of the Baja California sanitary regulation office in Tijuana, said the Mirador residence, a half block from a public hospital, posed a risk for infection. Because many of the animals were crowded into cages, some suffered from muscle atrophy and couldn't walk, Morales said. The Colinas del Sol residence will be shut down in the next couple of weeks, he said.
Authorities said Coward had good intentions. Nevertheless, he could face a a state charge of endangering the lives of humans, an administrative infraction.
Tijuana has a dog pound, but its resources are limited, and the city looks to volunteer groups from both sides of the border to conduct spaying and neutering programs.
The municipal facility in eastern Tijuana has five communal cages, which each can hold 30 to 40 animals, along with 24 individual cages for aggressive dogs, said Dr. Marco Antonio Tapia Miranda, the pound's director. About 30 to 40 dogs are euthanized there twice a week with the help of a U.S. group, United Hope for Animals, he said.
Tapia said in 80 percent of the cases, the dogs running loose on city streets have owners. But Coto, president of the Humane Society de Tijuana, said that many are only nominally owned and are left to find their own food and shelter.
On Thursday, Mayor Jorge Ramos announced that by the end of the year, the city would establish a shelter for abandoned dogs on a 2.5-acre property in an unpopulated area of southern Tijuana. At a City Hall news conference, Ramos called on rescue groups and private citizens to join the city in its efforts to address the problem.
The publicity has helped; by yesterday, 80 of the dogs under Coward's care had been adopted, city officials said.
Coward said he has been picking up stray animals since he was a boy, but it wasn't until eight years ago that the activity began taking over his life. His dream was to save money and build a small ranch where he could care for the animals.
As a playwright, Coward won recognition for works that he wrote and directed. One play, “Pedro y Lola,” followed the life of a couple, and was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke's “Letters to a Young Poet.”
But in recent years, Coward said he became disenchanted with the theater world, and increasingly absorbed with rescuing animals. The burden soon became overwhelming.
Two years ago, Coward was forced to leave a rented house where he was keeping 150 dogs, so he moved them to the residence raided last week, where two of his drama students, Alejandra Loaiza and Mariana López, were already caring for 40 animals.
Coward said he supported his efforts by giving acting lessons, while the women sold candy on the street.
“My entire family was getting sick,” said José Macias, who lives next door. “There was not a single day that it didn't smell bad.”
Coward said he knew he had taken on too much, but could not find help. When fellow animal rescue advocates offered assistance, he said he ended up feeling exploited.
“Clearly I've committed many errors, but the truth is, I've been putting all of myself into this, everything I can do,” Coward said, at times verging on tears.
To those who suggest he lost control of the situation, Coward offers this response: “What's going on here is not my problem; it's the city's problem.”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22nd Itchy Scratchy Clinic in Salvatierra

On Sunday, February 22nd, a second group of HSTJ volunteers conducted a Street Clinic in the town of Salvatierra. Over 200 dogs and cats were treated for fleas, mange, worms and other parasites this day, an amazing turnout!

HSTJ volunteers focused their efforts on speaking to the community about the humane treatment of animals, proper care and nutrition and the importance of sterilization. The community was urtged to bring these animals to the next Spay/Nueter campaign on March 15th.

Thanks to your generosity with the food drive, every animal was sent home with a 6lb bag of food.

Thank you for your support, we could not continue our work in Tijuana without you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14 Adoption Event - Canines & Cupids

This was the first year that Friends of HSTJ participated in the Canines & Cupids Adoption Event and we look forward to attending again next year! What a great event, over 15 other rescue organizations attended with their adoptable pets.
It was a beautiful day, clear skies, warm weather and so many people looking for their forever companion. We successfully adopted two dogs today! We were thrilled!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 7th Itchy Scratchy Clinic in Los Laureles

On Satruday, February 7th, HSTJ volunteers arrived in the town of Los Laureles to conduct an Itchy Scratchy Clinic. Due to the rainy conditions, the clinic had to be shut down after just two hours but they were still able to treat 25 dogs and 3 cats for parasites and mange.

Mange was a prevalent condition seen at this clinic, a debilitating parasite, left untreated an animal could lose all of its hair. It is amazing to see the transformation an animal will make when their mange is treated and clears up. See our web site success stories for some heartwarming examples:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 1st Sterilization Clinic in La Gloria

On February 1st, a group of HSTJ volunteers arrived at a poor home in La Gloria, Tijuana.

A humble and kind family created a make shift pen to house the many street animals roaming the nieghborhood. The pen was kept clean, the animals were well fed and watered, but none had been sterilized nor been seen by a veterinarian.

Volunteers from HSTJ arrived to perform a street clinic and nueter all of the males. 17 animals were sterilized this day. All 30 were treated for parasites. The families 2 year old daughter could call out each animal by their name. We were glad to help these animals and this poor family.

We will continue to assist this family until all of their animals are fixed to end the cycle of uncontrolled breeding.