In honor of National Spay Day, Fi's Vet Expert, Dr. Jeff, is sharing his incredible experience at a spay and neuter clinic for stray animals in Mexico:

"I have been working with various rescue groups over my many years in practice, and find it one of the most rewarding things I do. Several years ago, I joined a rescue called Amazon Cares for a documentary filming of a trip to Iquitos and Belen in Peru—called the Western Gateway to the Amazon—on a “capture and release” spay and neuter mission to help curb the terrible over-population problem caused by hundreds of stray dogs running in the streets.  I joined a team of 3 other veterinarians, and in the course of 5 days, we captured and spayed, neutered, removed tumors, and cleaned/sutured wounds of about 200 dogs and cats. I don’t think I ever felt so accomplished as a veterinarian by doing something for the sole purpose of it being the right thing to do.

Currently, I work with about 6 or 7 rescue groups in Los Angeles, and 2 of them, Ho’ola Dog Rescue and Animal Rescue Mission, partner with a shelter in Ensenada, Mexico rescuing their dogs and transporting them to Los Angeles.  They bring up these dogs not only for their own rescues, but for any other local rescue that might be able to help adopt these dogs out.  

The Ensenada shelter, run by an amazing woman named Keila, is a private shelter that is next door to the City pound, and for good reason.  The City pound elects to euthanize every dog that is not perfect, so many very adoptable dogs and cats never get a chance.  Keila, an animal lover and rescuer herself, could not stand seeing this, so she leased the land directly next door to the city shelter, and opened “Ellos son la razon,” which translates to “They are the reason!”  Of course, it is the animals in need of help that are “the reason.”  

The shelter itself is not pretty—Keila runs on a shoestring budget, is able to get food, medications, vaccinations, crates, enclosures, blankets, etc. donated, and kicks in her own money for whatever else they need.  Most of the help at the shelter is given by volunteers—and they gladly work their behinds off!  Currently, she has over 250 dogs and cats at her shelter desperately in need of care, spay/neuter, medical treatment, attention, new cages, runs and enclosures, and lots of TLC.

Having seen and treated many of these animals over the past year and hearing about Keila and the challenges she’s been facing, you can imagine how quick I was to say “yes” when  Ho’ola and ARM asked me to come down to Ensenada to spay, neuter, and give medical and surgical treatment to many of these dogs and cats. I drove down with Alexis from Ho’ola and my daughter, Shayne (quite the crazed animal lover herself), and got to work right away. I was ready to take many of them home with me, but with already having 10 pets at home, that would have been a challenge.  

Over the next day and a half, working on picnic tables with natural sunlight, we spayed or neutered about 35 dogs and 4 cats, and removed tumors from 2 and repaired a large leg wound on one.  As with my Amazon trip years before, I experienced that same feeling of accomplishment.  We brought four pets back with us, and Alexis and Shayne drove back 2 weeks later to bring back several more.  Once checked out and vaccinated,  others are brought to L.A. via transporters.  Sadly, we see a lot of sick animals from tick-borne diseases like Erlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, viruses like Distemper and Parvo, intestinal parasites, as well as Transmissible Venereal Tumor—a sexually transmitted disease, and many of these dogs don’t always make it—Very sad!!

I have no doubt that I’ll be going back to Mexico to do more needed work down in Ensenada with Ho’ola and Eloise rescues, and plan to bring another veterinarian down with me. With two of us working together, we can accomplish even more.  If you would like more information, or would like to donate to this very worthy cause and help these rescue groups save lives, you can reach me or the associated rescues through Fi."

You can learn more about Ho'ola Dog Rescue by checking out their Instagram!