Given the recent earthquakes that have affected Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Mexico City, and many smaller communities in southern Mexico, there has been much attention focused on the heroic dogs who are assisting the Navy and other rescue groups in the search for survivors. Frida, Eco, and Evil have become household names. Piñatas, coloring books, and stuffed animals created in their likeness aim to celebrate and honor these dogs for their hard work. It has even been suggested that Frida’s likeness would look terrific on a 500 peso bill.
Their presence also serves to remind citizens not to forget pets and the stray animal population during this chaotic time. Donations of dog and cat food are pouring into collection centers. Notices of missing animals and those needing homes appear daily on social media sites.
It is not easy being a dog or cat in Mexico on a normal day, never mind after a devastating natural disaster. There is a stray pet problem in Guaymas/San Carlos, exacerbated by lack of affordable veterinary care or lack of access to such care. La Sociedad Benefactura y Protección Animal, a non-profit headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, works hard in the community to change that by offering spay/neuter clinics and vaccinations, not only for family pets, but also for stray and/or feral animals. Recently, the SBPA has added mobile clinics, extending their outreach.
The SBPA depends on volunteers to assist with the operation of the clinics and the various annual fundraisers. Volunteers transport animals, man tables during the clinics, and translate (Spanish to English and English to Spanish, not barking). Many members also choose to foster puppies or adopt abandoned animals themselves.
One of the most popular fundraisers each year is the SBPA Fashion Show. Rescued dogs parade up and down the catwalk wearing hand knitted sweaters. (Sweaters become very popular for dogs during the “winter months”. You know, when temperatures reach about 75 degrees.) Human fashions are also on display, as local businesspeople model clothing from area thrift stores (non-profits for rescue services and scholarships for local students). Attendees can buy raffle tickets for items donated by local businesses. There are usually pets available for adoption as well.
Altered Tails Bookstore is open daily on the malecón in Marina San Carlos. Residents donate their gently used books, which are then resold to eager readers. We were provided very limited space in a moving truck for personal items when our family transferred to San Carlos. This meant I had to leave my personal library behind. I discovered Altered Tails within our first week and began volunteering a few months later. It is the perfect place for anyone who loves books and animals! Every third Saturday, readers can buy a bag of books for a mere 50 pesos (approximately $2.75). All money raised through fundraisers and book sales support the clinics and vaccinations.
Through much hard work and a genuine love of animals, stray and abandoned dogs and cats and family pets are given a chance for a much healthier life. Dogs have demonstrated their ability to assist humans in Mexico City. The SBPA in San Carlos shows animals that humans are willing to do the same for them.