“Why do you rescue dogs from Mexico? ” by Christi Camblor, DVM

I have been rescuing dogs from Mexico for fifteen years.

That’s fifteen years of scruffy faces, four-legged heroes, heartbreak, resilience, and shiny bright examples of hardship overcome, tragedy giving way to good fortune, suffering transformed. dsc_8854

During that time, there is one question that has continually been raised that I want to discuss, dissect, and lay wide open for inspection once and for all.

Why do you rescue dogs from Mexico when dogs in the U.S. need your help?

Fair enough. Here we go:

Animal transport from overcrowded communities to communities where there is a void of adoptable animals is a practice approved by all major animal welfare agencies: SAWA {Society for the Advancement of Animal Welfare Administrators}, HSUS {Hume Society of the United States}, and the ASPCA {American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Anmals}.

supplydemandThe essence of the reasoning is best explained by the “supply and demand” principle of microeconomics. There is an over “supply” in point A of animals that face little to no hope of adoption, will face euthanasia or be left to languish.
At the same time, there is a “demand” at point B where shelters face a void of highly adoptable animals, are sitting empty, and adopters are unable to find companions.

By transporting dogs out of the “oversupply” point A you help to increase the amount of animals who make it out alive, decrease the number who are euthanized, and you free up valuable resources to care for the animals left behind.

And, of course, you save that animal’s life.

By transporting those dogs in to the “demand” point B you help to make matches between adopters and companion animals, create diversity in your shelter population, and work toward utilizing your facilities, staff, and programs to capacity.

And, of course, you save that animal’s life.

I think what many people don’t realize is that there are these “demand” point B locations. Communities where shelters sit mostly empty, where adopters enter and walk out without a match due to the low volume of animals, where the demand for animals far outstrips the local supply.

Adoptable animals are not euthanized in those communities. They are adopted. Quickly. And there aren’t enough of them.

With that understood, the question still remains why don’t we go to the “oversupply” points in the U.S. – why Mexico?

In actuality, we do rescue dogs from those points in the U.S. In fact, 70% of the dogs we rescued last year were from overcrowded shelters in the Central Valley of California {2}

That said, what about the 30% that come from Mexico. Why do we rescue them?

At this point, let’s take a deliberate and far-reaching break from market theory and statistical analysis.

Now, I want to speak from the heart.

Why do I rescue dogs from Mexico? Because they so desperately need our help. blinddogstillonstreets.jpgThe magnitude of their suffering, the bleak and harsh landscape into which they were born, the total and complete lack of humane options for these animals, it screams to me from south of the border and calls me forward to do whatever I can.

In addition, and this may be where the true moral crux of my argument lay, because I see no distinction between the inherent value and worth of a dog based on where he or she happened to be born. A suffering animal is a suffering animal and my compassion is not bound by geography nor conflicted by national loyalties.

What difference does it make if we choose to rescue dogs from an overcrowded shelter in the Central Valley of California or if we go a couple more hundred miles south and get them from below the border? Wherein does the conflict lie?

Is it the national boundary? A geographic distinction which somehow shrinks that animal’s value and pushes it out of our realm of moral concern? What exactly is it????

My rational mind steps forward. Perhaps it is a question or concern about disease? Fair enough. But, we provide a voluntary quarantine, vaccinate, deworm, sterilize, and provide all medical care for animals prior to transport. So, let’s dismiss that, shall we?

Is it a question about us not helping animals in the U.S. if we are busy with those south of the border? Well…. OK…. however, we rescued nearly 500 animals from the US in the past year alone and provided access to free veterinary care and spay/neuter to over 2,000 more. So, can we lay that concern to rest, as well?

Undoubtedly, there are those who believe that we must fix our problems “at home” first before reaching outward and bringing resources there. But, why can’t we do both? Why can’t we help right here at home and also extend ourselves to where we see the need, where our hearts lead us, where we can do so much good?

This is a classic ‘either-or’ fallacy, a false dichotomy that prevents us from viewing the world around us with a broader lens; that works only to limit rather than to strengthen our ability to make a difference.

Circling back to the geographic distinction for these animals, only this time from my perspective: You want to know what the difference between a homeless dog just north of the border and one even just a few miles south of it is?

Allow me to shed some light here. The homeless dog here in the U.S. will, at the very least, have the chance of a humane death if there is no chance of rescue or adoption. By and large, this is true of nearly all U.S shelters at this point.

In turn, the animal south of the border does not have that same guaranteed fate. He or she will either languish, starve, or suffer on the streets or, if they are rounded up and captured by animal control, they will be electrocuted – the most common method of killing unwanted animals in Mexico.

The need is so great. The resources so few. The animals so precious. Why wouldn’t we help? The life of every dog is every bit as valuable as the life of any other. Plain and simple.

Whatever we can do, each of us, in our own way, to bring compassion, alleviate suffering, break down barriers, and facilitate kindness and joy should be celebrated and encouraged.

In an increasingly globalized reality we can find ourselves standing face to face with some frightening prejudices and limited views based on nationalism that only work to undercut our overall humanity and the beauty, wisdom, and creativity that each of us contains and can utilize to make the world a better place.

So, I say, follow your heart. See where it leads you. And start right there, wherever that may be.  Set your compassion ablaze.





  1. The term “Adoptable” used in this article as it relates to the Asilomar Accords: http://www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/asilomar-accords-definitions
  2. Statistics from CWOB last fiscal year {2015-2016}: 480 dogs rescued from Central Valley of California, 183 from Mexico

14 thoughts on ““Why do you rescue dogs from Mexico? ” by Christi Camblor, DVM

  1. Thank you so much for these words! I have retired in Mexico and see the horrible conditions of dogs here. Recently in our community there was a news article in an expat publication criticizing our work and the fact that we have sent animals to the US and Canada. You have hit every criticism on the button and answered them perfectly. I will continue to work for these creatures of God and do whatever I can to make life better for them no matter what anyone else says! We are PATITAS COSTENAS and you can see some of the dogs on our website and Facebook pages. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!

  2. Well said! Your organization is stellar. I have traveled in Central America and it was heart-breaking to see all the dogs in need. As a volunteer in a shelter in the central valley I see the need there as well, but a life is a life. Compassion without borders is exactly that. Helping dogs on both sides…

  3. Compassion Without Borders, is a Godsend. I live in Mexico, and see on a daily basis, cats and dogs without food, water, and positive attention. No blankets, beds or anything to lay on, but a concrete doorstep. No food or water bowls, but a tiny plastic container, usually empty for several days. Dogs and cats, knocking over garbage cans, in hopes of finding a few scraps of food. This city has recently applied a new law against abused animals, but I feel there will be no repurcussions to the obvious affender. I have taken two emancipated dogs i found on the street, to where they had immediate veterinary care and given another chance at life. I was overcome with joy to find out they were both taken to the US, by Compassion Without Borders, where forever families were waiting for their arrival.

  4. Thank you for this fantastic response to the question. will be forwarding to all my contacts! I live I Mexico and contribute to Evolution Animals in Merida Yucatan. We send dogs to Canada.

  5. Thank you for your cogent and compassionate arguments. I feel so lucky to finally be able to make a difference in the lives of animals in need, by working with and supporting CWOB. It has been so frustrating to have only Sonoma County Animal Services to partner with, though i know they are doing their best whenever possible. I have often questioned the guidelines for whom they deem “adoptable”…. so the link to the Asilomar accords is helpful. To not be constrained by borders is also a good thing as borders are truly a fiction. They exist only in the human mind. As one of my favorite teachers says….”The mind creates the abyss. The heart crosses it. ” But Christi, i think you are too busy crossing the abysses (is that a word?) that other minds have made! Thank you for making hope possible!

  6. “Allow me to shed some light here. The homeless dog here in the U.S. will, at the very least, have the chance of a humane death if there is no chance of rescue or adoption. By and large, this is true of nearly all U.S shelters at this point.

    In turn, the animal south of the border does not have that same guaranteed fate. He or she will either languish, starve, or suffer on the streets or, if they are rounded up and captured by animal control, they will be electrocuted – the most common method of killing unwanted animals in Mexico.”

  7. Since you are bringing all these dogs into our communities, please teach the humans how to care for them. You may not see or hear it but our neighborhoods have barking dogs crying out for attention, not being walked or played with. Yes they have homes but they are alone. The dogs I saw on the “Neighbors” post said “one and only” dogs. If this is so, why? Do they not get along with other dogs? Does this mean this dog will fight? Please be pro active within the community you are bring so many lost souls. Sometimes good deeds have unforeseen consequences. Thank you and bless you for loving our fellow beings.

  8. We adopted a Chihuahua terrier mix 7 months ago from Muttopia.
    She’s the sweetest dog anyone could want. With lots of love she is thriving .She makes everyday better then the day before. I can’t imagine what her live was like on the streets of Mexico. All she knows now is love and security.What a joy!!!
    Keep up the great work.
    Ginger sends her 💕

  9. Hello ,
    My friend is bringing me a dog from Mexico ( rescue) I am adopting her.
    If he travels like he is the owner and leaves it here will he have a problem when he go backs to Mexico without the dog ?
    He is flying

  10. I have just adopted 2 dogs from Mexico. It was as good for the doggies as it is for our family. We’re living compassion in the global world where we ALL exist. Organizations like yours and the one we rescued through marks all that is right with humanity.

  11. I lived in Mexico for 10 years. Adopted three different Mexican mutts and just loss one 3 months ago. (My true heart dog!) I rescued several puppies and had them shipped NOB. I had their mother spayed and would’ve loved to have adopted her, but she chooses the street. I have supported her with food/water for more than 10 years. And, while I have returned to live in the US, I continue to send $ to the family that feeds/waters her. Had she not been spayed, she may not still be alive today. To me, there’s nothing like the love of a Mexican mutt. I applaud the work you do and hope to adopt a cuddlebug from you now that I know of your loving, compassionate organization.

    Thank you for all you do for Mexican immigrant dogs, as well as, those from the Central CA Valley and likely beyond.
    Cass Larkin

  12. Ethically, I believe one should try to alleviate suffering wherever on sees it. As a volunteer at the Compassion Without Borders (CWOB) shelter and adoption facility in Santa Rosa, CA, I get the opportunity to apply those ethics locally.

    The Camblors and certain volunteers save and rehabilitate a wide range of dogs in need, including some unimaginably abused and mistreated animals, on both sides of the border. Dogs face no time limit for adoption: one formerly challenging but now sweet Lab, saved from imminent euthanasia a Central Valley shelter, has been living at CWOB for over a year and thrives despite not yet being adopted.

    Having seen hundreds of street dogs in Guatemala this spring, some healthy looking but some severely emaciated, was another eye opener on what a committed international animal rescue organization can accomplish. As just one individual, all I could do was feed table scraps to the most needy looking dogs. Around Lake Atitlan, on the other hand, French actress Bridgette Bardot’s animal welfare network does a lot of spay-neutering, and the benefits in terms of fewer and healthier strays was palpable. CWOB plays a similar role, plus active rescue of at-risk individuals, just south of the border, There is no reason to confine these efforts to just one county/state/nation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s