Friday, June 10, 2011

HSTJ Sponsors Baja California Statewide Conference for Reform at Local Dog Pound

Humane Society de Tijuana

Summary -Baja California, Mexico Statewide Conference of Animal Welfare Groups

May 7, 2011 Tijuana, Baja California

With the financial support of Friends of Humane Society de Tijuana, the Humane Society de Tijuana [HSTJ] was able to co-sponsor a statewide conference along with The Association for the Protection and Care of Animals. The event was held in Tijuana on 7 May 2011 and attended by 45 persons representing eleven animal welfare/rescue groups from the state of Baja California, Mexico. Organizations from Ensenada, Mexicali, Rosarito, Tecate, and Tijuana were represented.

The focus of the conference was to 1) address the urgent need to reform administrative policies for dog pounds 2) identify and push for improvement of physical conditions in those facilities 3) urge the cities to conduct more spay and neuter programs to lessen the need to impound and euthanize animals 4)explore solutions that will ensure that pounds use humane drugs for euthanasia and no longer use electrocution 5) promote private organization spay/neuter programs- recognizing that spay/neuter is the only real solution to the problem.

[Note to the reader: Most Mexican cities operate dog “ pounds” which are in no way comparable to comprehensive full- service animal shelters found in most American cities.]

While HSTJ supports a policy of “No Kill” for rescued animals, it works to ensure that when other agencies and/or groups euthanize impounded animals they do so in a humane manner.
[L  to R : Dr. Miguel Rodriguez, Luca Foundation;  Richard Massa, President, Friends of HSTJ; Mrs. Cecilia Vega Leon, Associate Haghenbeck Foundation; Mrs. Leticia Coto, President HSTJ]
The principal speaker was Mrs. Cecilia Vega Leon, an associate of the prestigious Antonio Haghenbeck Foundation in Mexico City and a board member of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. She has a wealth of experience in assisting animal welfare groups to reform dog pounds throughout Mexico. Having made a visit to the Tijuana pound before the conference and having reviewed the assessments made by Humane Society de Tijuana over the past four years, she discussed the Mexican laws that pertained to the subject matter of the conference and then gave her assessment of what needed to be done to bring about the reforms. The visit and subsequent evaluation was designed to serve as an example that could be used by the participants in their respective areas.
[L-R.  Richard Massa, Pres. of FHSTJ;  Lic. Patricia Torres, Gente por Animales, Mexicali; Dr. Marco Antonio Tapia, Director, Antirrabico, Tijuana.]
In the presence of the Director of the Tijuana pound [Perrera/Antirrabico] Mrs. Vega Leon reported her findings. Among the several items cited, she gave special attention to the following:

  • The illegal selling of dogs that were not spayed/neutered.
  • The illegal supplying of dogs to the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California [University of Baja California] for vivisection.
[Note to the reader: Following this recommendation, the director of the pound announced he was sending a letter to the university stating that he would no longer supply them with animals.]

  • The failure to provide sufficient low cost and/or free spay and neuter services to the city and failure to adequately support those private organizations doing so.
[Note to the reader: The details from a report submitted to the state department of health in Mexicali were reviewed. It noted that 1600 spays/ neuters were done by the Tijuana pound [Antirrabico] and for which it was reimbursed by the state of Baja California. The numbers were hotly contested by representatives of private organizations currently doing spays/neuters in Tijuana. The director of the Tijuana city pound was unable to explain how or who submitted the report. This was followed by an open discussion about the city’s receiving credit and reimbursement for work done by private organizations.]

  • The need to reevaluate the administration of the Tijuana city pound budget and, if as stated by city functionaries there was no budget to support the above recommendations, the pound be closed since the law requires that city agencies have an operational budget and function within the law.
  • To stop charging the public for euthanizing animals brought to the pound because of illnesses or injuries for which the owner cannot afford to treat- especially since the drugs are already being provide to the pound at no cost by private organizations and persons. Failure to assist these people means that their animals die a painful death .
[L-R: Lizbeth Luna, AVPCA; Dr. Miguel Rodriguez, Luca Foundation; Leticia Coto, HSTJ, Richard Massa, FHSTJ,  Dr. .Antonio Furlong, HSTJ ]The second part of the conference was the educational presentation made by Dr. Miguel Rodriguez, M.V.Z [DVM], Coordinator, Luca Foundation, Monterey, Mexico. The Luca Foundation is a Mexican foundation dedicated to animal welfare and specializes in providing humanitarian assistance to Antirrabico facilities [dog pounds] in Mexico. It provides educational programs to veterinarians as well as the general public. It has assisted numerous pounds throughout Mexico so that they could suspend the use of electrocution and adopt humane drugs as a means of euthanasia.

The day before his presentation, he along with Humane Society de Tijuana’s veterinarian a medical doctor [MD] and two other local veterinarians made a visit to the city pound where Dr. Rodriguez demonstrated the Luca Foundation formula as an effective, low cost and humane procedure that can be easily adopted by the Tijuana pound just as it has been in other Mexican cities. The veterinarians as well as the medical doctor agreed that the Luca Foundation procedure was better and less costly than the procedure currently used by the Tijuana pound.

Dr. Rodriguez made the following recommendations:

  • Instead of using an expensive formula of anesthesia drugs, Tijuana use the Luca Foundation procedure which is painless, humane, efficient, and inexpensive – costing only 11 pesos [only $1 US dollar] per animal.
[ A note to the reader: Less expensive American made animal euthanasia drugs are not legal in Mexico and they cannot be imported for use here. It is imperative to use drugs that are legal, cost effective, readily available in Mexico and humane. The Luca Foundation provides educational programs to address these challenges.]

  • Organizations supplying the pound with humane euthanasia drugs need not buy expensive anesthesia drugs directly from the pound or agencies connected with the pound. Instead, they can use Luca Foundation formula drugs which can be purchased from any local licensed supplier. These formula drugs are cost effective and less of a drain on an organization’s budget. More resources for humane drugs will assure the continued suspension of electrocution as the means of euthanasia.

The conference was a great success and it was agreed that the conference participants promote continued state-wide meetings to follow up on the progress of reforms and the promotion of animal welfare programs. HSTJ and the other co-sponsor of the event, AVPCA, were pleased with the attendance and the willingness of the other Baja California groups to continue with this type of united front in working toward animal welfare reforms in Mexico.

As a follow up , the Haghenbeck Foundation sent their findings to the director of the Tijuana Department of Health, the sub-director of the Tijuana Department of Health and the director of the Tijuana pound [Perrera/ Antirrabico] with copies to officials in the state and federal government . HSTJ will be doing periodic reviews and reporting back to the Haghenbeck Foundation. The president of the HSTJ and Haghenbeck Foundation associates have already arranged a meeting in Mexico City with the Mexican Federal government’s chief animal health official and other public health officials to discuss the situation in Tijuana and report their finding.

Friends of Humane Society de Tijuana is proud to have been able to support this activity that is a first in Tijuana. As you can see from this report from HSTJ, the conference was not only a discussion of urgently needed reforms but also included hands-on, on-site education. As a follow up, HSTJ is already preparing for the second phase which will be to have representatives from the Luca Foundation return to Tijuana to speak with professional educators about the need for animal welfare reforms in the city.

See the article in the Baja Times here

Where Are They Now? A Hoarding Case Re-Visited, Part Four: The Story of Gypsy Paloma

A little more than two years ago, HSTJ responded to a hoarding case, a man was found to be hoarding 157 dogs in two locations of Tijuana. (a link to the article is below). As a result of mass publicity and the help of rescue groups, 80% of these animals were adopted out. However, the conditions of the animals that remained were horrible. HSTJ arrived to conduct a street clinic on these remaining animals, but as volunteers started processing the animals and treating them, we slowly realized that we could not just leave them there, we had to do something. Within an hour, we had found a property where we could temporarily house the remaining dogs, a huge undertaking for an organization of such meager resources, but the volunteers were strong, resourceful and determined. I don't think we realized how much work would have to be put into this project but in the end it was well worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Read the full story here

I have decided to re-visit this story and follow up with as many of the owners of the rescued hoarding dogs, so that their amazing stories can be shared and live on forever.
The Story of Paloma, Now called Gypsy

Paloma was her name. I saw her picture on the Friends of HSTJ website, back in 2009. She was from the hoarding case. Out of all the dogs I looked at, I kept going back to Paloma.

I already had a rescue pit bull mix, but since I lived alone, worked a lot, I felt my dog, Frigga needed a companion.

I finally broke down and emailed Michelle about Paloma. I told her my situation, not knowing if my dog would get along with another dog.

Michelle was very good about giving me details about Paloma and since I had interest, Michelle wanted to take Paloma from Tijuana and bring her to Solana Beach at the Muttropollis adoption event. I told my son, his girlfriend, my coworker, plus I had been putting up photos of adoptable animals at work, hoping they could all get adopted.

I brought Frigga to this event, so she could meet Paloma. Fortunately, it went very well, like they had already known each other. I took them both for a walk and they were so in sync together. I was told by one of the volunteers that they are going to be just fine. That was all I needed to hear, so Paloma was mine!

On the same day, my son and his girlfriend also adopted Honey, which they now call Canela. Later on, my co worker adopted a dog, now called Sami. Michelle said it was a great adoption event.

It took me over a week to find another name for Paloma. I decided on Gypsy. It just fit her carefree, fearless, personality. Her play fullness, smarts and such a love bug. Therefore, Gypsy Paloma is her name.

I have a regular camping get away on Palomar Mountain, where now, I have 2 dogs that can run free, together. This was all new to Gypsy and I learned that she loves to hunt and she goes off into her own world of just being free and so very happy. Like all animals should be.

Gypsy is a quick learner, very well behaved. She makes me laugh, because she is so smart and the cutest. She is very protective of me, which is a plus, when I am alone. She loves people and other dogs. She has a mind of her own, which makes her quite special. She likes to lick Frigga's face, at times, like that's Momma.

Gypsy is just a rad dog! I toss her treats and she catches them! Who knew?

I can't express enough, how happy and satisfied, Gypsy has made me feel. She keeps Frigga and myself on our toes, in a good way. Gypsy is an exceptional dog and I love her to death. Honestly, I never thought I would adopt such a dog, but thankful I did.

She now has a warm, happy, forever, loving home. Thanks to HSTJ and Michelle.

Please adopt, even if you are not expecting to. It will change your life and save another. There are homeless animals waiting for someone just like you!

HSTJ's May 22, 2011 Sterilization Clinic in Colonia Praderas de La Mesa

HSTJ's May Sterilization clinic was held on Sunday the 22nd in the colonia: Praderas de La Mesa, which is located atop one of the hills on the south-eastern part of TJ.

As HSTJ has been putting much planning and effort into reaching more and more areas of Tijuana, we were able to help sterilize many pets from this community.

Upon arriving and checking in, it was evident that the pet owners, both young and old, love and care for their animals as best they can. Needless to say, though, Spaying or Neutering is just the beginning of responsible animal care. Before each pet is discharged from the observation/recovery area, he is also treated for fleas, ticks, ear mites, the nails are clipped, the teeth cleaned and if needed, de-worming medication is also available.

Individually, each pet owner and his family are carefully instructed on proper care and good habits. Each pet also receives the necessary antibiotics, vitamins, a full supply of Dog/Cat Food and some other goodies too, such as leashes or collars.

This was a new location for HSTJ, and was a great start for this area during spring breeding season. We had some requests from a nearby orphanage about their resident animals in need of attention and we were nicely welcomed by the residents, we were happy to help them decrease the pet overpopulation in their neighborhood. Some of the young boys from the orphanage came by with their resident pets to have them fixed and helped us communicate the importance of animal husbandry to the local residents. The boys even walked around the surrounding area with us to show us animals that could use some medical attention. One dog had a terrible issue with the chain around his neck and another had been bitten and needed some attention. We were able to help these animals and provide the owners with information on how to better take care of their pets' needs. The young boys were very proud of the great work they had done and were extremely eager to help us spread the word about the importance of spay and neuter. We just love to work with the children because it is our hope that they will help make a better world for the animals in the future! It was a very successful clinic and we hope to return to Praderas de la Mesa in the future. Overall an excellent clinic in May. It was good to have so many volunteer vets doing surgery.

Thanks to all the volunteers from both sides of the border, we were able to spay/neuter 44 animals IN JUST ONE DAY... and with the best care possible, of course.

Thank you all for making this possible.

Results :
Perros/Male dogs 15
Perrras/Female dogs 23
Gatos/Male cats 2
Gatas/Female cats 4

Total 44 animals.

*Also, in one very special case, a neighborhood animal was brought in and treated for an infected bite on the abdomen and penis.

Thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers and of course our supporters who make these clinics possible.

To see all of the pictures from the May 22nd clinic click here:

To help support HSTJ Monthly spay & neuter clinics, please become a member of the Rescue 400 club!

HSTJ's May Street Clinics - Volunteers Are Hard At Work

The May 7th I.S. Clinic was held at Colonia “El Panamericano”. This is one of the poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods we’ve ever encountered in Tijuana. What you see upon arriving are massive low-cost housing units. Only a few are well-maintained and relatively free of crime, but most are high-rise, run-down conglomerations of enormous apartment buildings where graffiti and crime is very common. As you can imagine, we were hesitant to stay, but after seeing LOTS of dogs on the streets (and patrol cars making their rounds every 15 minutes), we decided to stay and try to treat as many animals as we could.

Since we’ve never been in this area before, neighbors here were understandably leary of our clinic for the first couple of hours. But as we were getting ready to pack things up, people started streaming towards us! In the end we treated 84 dogs and 39 cats. That’s an incredibly large number of cats for a Street Clinic! Volunteers attending were 4.

On this day we saw cats and dogs of all shapes and sizes. The main denominator here was ticks. At one point, after hearing from the residents how bad the tick infestation was, I decided to see for myself so I peeked into a building… and you could literally see hundreds of ticks climbing up the walls and roof of the hallway. We strongly suggested they purchase a chemical sold in most pet stores in TJ, which is very effective against fleas and ticks, and is also inexpensive.

One cat, Solecito, had ticks so huge attached to its chin, that when the owner, 15 year old Mayra, pulled them off, it left a gaping hole which quickly became infected. The cat was treated and Mayra was instructed on how to care for the wound.

Since most animals are kept inside the apartment buildings, we saw many cases of overgrown nails. These were properly clipped, and owners received indication of how to properly inspect their dog/cat‘s nails periodically.

On this day we treated kittens galore! With no one taking responsibility of these cats, and not being spayed or neutered, over the years they have reproduced like crazy. Most cats we were brought most likely didn’t have an owner, but rather than refer to them as strays, the kind neighbors who would bring them for treatment asked, “Would you treat this cat and her kittens, who aren’t mine, but just so happen to be living in our building, please?”. We happily complied.

We also saw and treated many litters of puppies. Only 1 puppy had been vaccinated. All others were advised to visit a vet for the puppies’ shots. The importance of this was highlighted, and so were the consequences of neglecting to administer these shots, which by the way are not expensive.

All throughout the day we kept seeing these strays pass by, unnoticed by the rest of the people, so we made a point of trying to treat them before we left. It was easy with cans of dog food, except for one little guy who was in the worst condition of them all. He had obviously been mistreated because of his skin condition, so he was very skittish. As I got close to him, you kept seeing he was very easily frightened, and would need some coaxing before he would even begin to eat. He was even more scared than he was hungry. It took a persistence, but eventually we got him. He was a dark haired, small sized male dog, about 7 years old. He was nicknamed Péke by the I.S. volunteers, and was treated for worms, ear mites, fleas, ticks, he had his teeth cleaned, was given vitamins, but also most importantly was treated for mange, both internally and externally.

Some neighbors showed disbelief upon seeing our endeavor to treat this dog. Others began to praise HSTJ for not ignoring the sickest or the worst looking animals, but rather making an active effort to help them. One neighbor even admitted she knew who this dog’s owner once was, and explained that when it got sick, they would no longer allow him in the house, and when he kept sleeping outside the door, the family would throw rocks at him to get him to leave the building. Unbelievable!!! His owners for at least the past five years kick him out of his home, and now he has to be out on the street with no food, water, or family!

Such a sad story, one of many we see everyday on the streets of TJ, which thankfully are becoming less and less common. Its clinics like these that help people come to know the responsibilities that come with owning pets. Not only that, but they realize the wide variety of resources that are made accessible in order to assist them. All this kind of changes their view on pets in general, and the entire community becomes actively aware of the way animals are being treated. We know this when we see several of the animals treated at an I.S. clinic arrive at our monthly Spay/Neuter Clinics. This attitude change is also apparent when follow-up visits are made to the area 1-2 months later. We plan to visit Péke again very soon.
But by far the most touching case we saw on this day, was of Chiquita, a white, medium size female who was in terrible shape. She is owned by an elderly lady named Doña Chayito who has about 12 other dogs in her apartment already. A good Samaritan named Sara, who has 7 dogs of her own and lives in the same building, helped her carry the dog because it shaking and wasn’t even able to stand, so she thought it wouldn’t even make it through the day. According to Sara, a family “gave the dog away” to Doña Chayito because it looked sick, and since then it hadn’t eaten anything for days.

Chiquita’s eyes were closed shut because of a bad eye infection. Her ears were so swollen, they were also closed shut. Since there was no way of taking this poor animal in for a vet visit, we did what we could with what we had. First we cleaned out the eye gunk and then administered eye medicine, we gave her a shot of a wide-range antibiotic, next came the regular: fleas, ticks, worms and vitamins.

I spoke with Sara privately and asked, “What are the chances that someone could take this dog to visit a vet?” and she sadly replied that Doña Chayito definitely could not, and that she or her husband couldn’t either. She also explained that her husband, although not much of a dog lover, already goes into Doña Chayito’s yard every morning, before he goes to work, and secretly feeds the dogs, just in case Doña Chayito doesn’t or can’t that day. She gave me her word, that if I left the medication for this pup, they would administer it daily, before they left for work. And that’s exactly what we did.

Everyone was amazed to see that by the time Chiquita was ready to leave, she was darting her eyes around, lifting her head and was already eating on her own. We also plan to visit her again soon.

Thank you for supporting HSTJ who makes clinics like this possible every week and thank you to all the HSTJ volunteers who put much effort into reaching out to the farthest areas of Tijuana.

The May 14 Itchy Scratchy Clinic was held at Colonia Jardin, a middle class gated community on the eastern part of TJ. We treated 5 dogs and 3 cats. People here weren't as receptive as we would've liked.

On our last visit to this area we were brought a brown female dog who was having a risky pregnancy. She didnt look well. We had strongly advised a vet visit, and provided puppy diapers because the dog was losing a considerable amount of fluids.

This time she looked much better! Sadly, 7 of the 8 puppies she had, died, leaving only one. The owner related that the vet visit was just the beginning of a long and costly ordeal that the entire family had undertaken in order to save their beloved family dog. In the end, their dog was able to make it through the pregnancy. This man finally said, "I learned my lesson. I am definitely going to be at the next Sterilization clinic. I don't ever want my Princess to go through this again".

The May 21 I.S. Clinic was held at Colonia Herrera, treating 27 dogs and 8 cats. Volunteers were 3. This was our first time at this community. People here are very interested in caring for the welfare of their animals. Despite that, these were some of the most flea infested pets we have ever seen! Cats AND dogs! Even the children who brought the pets were full of flea bites! We treated these poor animals, and suggested the owners also treat the areas where the animals live/sleep. Hopefully that will get rid of the fleas for good! We will still try to make a second visit to this area again.

The May 28 Itchy-Scratchy Clinic was held at Colonia Lomas del Porvenir. We treated 62 dogs and 6 cats. Although we have been in this area before, we always see new people, happy to bring their pets for treatment.

It is very sad however, to hear first-hand that not everyone wants to sterilize their pets. Many are still reluctant, because of the elevated costs at regular Vet Clinics. When they learn about our very low cost Spay/Neuter Clinics, many think its too good to be true, or that there's some sort of catch.

It takes a lot of convincing to get the people in this area to want to come to our Spay/Neuter Clinics, but its worth every minute to help decrease the number of strays on the streets of TJ.