A Different Approach To Rescuing Dogs

And it’s making a difference in La Paz

Baja Dogs is a non-profit, volunteer based, dog adoption organization in La Paz. Their primary goal is finding forever homes for the thousands of abandoned or mistreated dogs that roam the streets, while providing education and outreach to change the cultural perception of dogs and how they should be treated. And while there are many animal organizations in Baja, Baja Dogs is unique in its approach.

Baja Dogs is not a rescue or shelter. Instead, they provide support for those who want to rescue dogs in the community. If an individual comes to Baja Dogs wanting to rescue a couple of identified dogs in the community, the organization will provide guidance, nutritional support and education while the rescuer fosters them in their own home. Baja Dogs uses their connections and resources to find a permanent home for the dogs while staying in constant communication with the foster family.

wilsonimage.JPGAlthough their mission is to make the adoption process as easy as possible, Baja Dogs’ priority is to ensure the dogs’ new homes provide a lifetime of security and love. There is a fairly extensive screening process for potential new parents.

They also exercise full disclosure, so if a dog has been diagnosed with a particular disease, physical ailment or behavioral problem, they are completely transparent about those issues and work to alleviate them as much as possible before adoption. They recently started a weekly training course taught by a paid professional, so fosters can come together and socialize the dogs while working on behavioral issues in a shared space. They will also begin a prevention program this month, covering all deworming, initial comprehensive health exams, vaccines, and sterilization for dogs in the program.

Lisa Wilson is one of 14 active volunteers at Baja Dogs. In the years she’s been volunteering, her roles have been many. Her initial involvement included transporting adopted dogs flying north to the Los Cabos International Airport, ensuring the airline properly accommodated them to meet their new owner. Lisa describes this experience as bittersweet, with a lot of tears running down her cheeks as the dogs disappeared down the ramp.

Lisa and her husband still provide transportation for animals, and they are also one of 25 current active foster families. In addition, Lisa helps with the administrative side of things, answering inquiries about the adoption process and walking people through the process. She also facilitates the process of microchipping the dogs going north, which can take a while if she is meeting the foster at the vet clinic to get a health check prior to transport.

How much time she spends in the office depends on how many inquiries they have pending, how many dogs are getting ready for transport, how many interested adopters have questions, etc. Some days might take just an hour or two, others take up to four.

Lisa says she spends so much time volunteering because she loves dogs. She’s always had a four-legged companion, and she admits that she takes to dogs more than humans sometimes.

Lisa’s work with dogs in Mexico began 14 years ago, when she and her husband used to feed the feral dogs out of their camper on Tecolote Beach. Four years ago, they decided to move into a house in La Paz, and she started with Baja Dogs shortly after. Lisa’s pride for the dedicated volunteers, their professionalism, and the success stories keep her motivated.

In 2017, Baja Dogs had a total of 178 adoptions. Lisa believes that facilitating the process of adoption, and making it as easy as possible, increases the likelihood of successful adoptions. She says their work not only makes a difference in the lives of individual dogs and their adopted families, but the community as well. New dog owners share their success stories, and then others in the community are more inclined to get involved and adopt themselves. And with the amount of education that’s at the forefront of this whole process, the fosters and new parents can share best practices with others in the community.

Lisa describes their approach as a “grass roots method” that provides holistic and long-term solutions to the exponential growth of street dogs. It not only decreases the number of street dogs, it also changes the perception of how dogs should be treated.

If you’d like to volunteer with Baja Dogs, or foster or adopt a dog, visit their website at bajadogslapaz.org, or email the volunteer coordinator at volunteer@bajadogslapaz.org.