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A dog’s birthplace usually determines what kind of life it will have. Dogs born in poverty-stricken areas in both the U.S. and abroad often have short, miserable lives where the weather, disease, and cohabitation with humans and other species make survival next to impossible. But while life for these animals in poor areas seems overwhelming, there are rescue groups that improve and save these dogs’ lives. Compassion Without Borders, a 501©3 nonprofit, has been working tirelessly since 2001 to better the quality of life for animals in California’s Central Valley and across the border in Mexico.
Christi Camblor, D.V.M., co-founder and executive director of CWOB, created a rescue organization after volunteering at the Refugio Franciscano, one of the largest animal shelters in the world, located in bustling Mexico City.
What Dr. Camblor witnessed during her first experience in Mexico was heartbreaking. The shelter lacked the resources and space to properly treat the thousands of animals that came in sick, neglected, injured, or with behavioral issues. Dogs spent days packed in dirty cages before being euthanized with methods that were far from humane.
“Nearly nonexistent spay/neuter programs in Mexico, combined with no effective animal control or animal services means that free-roaming dogs continue to breed, and the overpopulation continues to worsen,” Dr. Camblor said. “There is a lack of awareness about animal overpopulation, adoption, and welfare, and the overall socioeconomic issues often have families struggling day to day to meet their own basic needs, which leaves no income to even consider animals.”
Devastated by the situation, but not deterred, Dr. Camblor started by rescuing one dog that had touched her heart: a scruffy terrier named Chacha. She took the little dog from the shelter and to a veterinarian. Chacha then found the loving home she deserved, and Dr. Camblor continued rescuing more and more dogs until she formally founded CWOB with Moncho Camblor, who would later become her husband.
From its grassroots beginnings as a couple with a mission to take on Mexico’s pet overpopulation issue by saving one life at a time, CWOB has grown into an animal welfare organization that makes a difference in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Along with rescuing homeless and neglected dogs off the streets in Mexico, CWOB pulls dogs from overcrowded shelters in California’s Central Valley. Thanks to CWOB, highly adoptable dogs are transported to communities across the U.S. where they quickly find loving homes. More than 1,400 dogs have been rescued from Central Valley, and the wellness clinics in the U.S. have spayed and neutered more than 4,100 cats and dogs thus far.
CWOB also runs animal wellness clinics in Mexico and low-income neighborhoods in the U.S. These volunteer-run clinics provide low-cost (or free) veterinary care to the pets of those in underserved communities and teach pet owners about the benefits of spaying and neutering their dogs and cats. Wellness clinic veterinary volunteers have spayed and neutered more than 8,100 Mexican cats and dogs.
Since its creation, CWOB has improved the quality of life for thousands of animals and has had a positive impact on the communities. Dr. Camblor said that thanks to the efforts of CWOB, the use of electrocution for killing unwanted animals in the Mexican state of Chihuahua has been eradicated.
Dogs rescued in Mexico receive all medical care — spay/ neuter, vaccinations, deworming, and clearance to travel — on-site before arriving in the United States and being placed in a voluntary 90-day quarantine in foster homes.
Dr. Camblor knows that millions of American dogs face the same challenges as those in Mexico but believes that it’s not a question of helping “local” animals first before reaching out to animals in other countries — welfare efforts for which she is sometimes criticized.
“[CWOB] sees no conflict in also extending our knowledge, resources, and compassion across the border and helping the animals in need there, too,” she explained. “To us, helping animals anywhere is worthwhile, and the need is huge in Mexico.”
CWOB is currently expanding its U.S.-based animal wellness and spay/neuter clinics to service the homeless population and would like to improve its stationary clinic in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, by turning it into “a training center and taking over the animal control contract for the area to decrease euthanasia and promote improved animal welfare.” To do so, CWOB has to maintain funding for such programs and reach as many animals as possible despite limited resources and a small staff.