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PEOPLE & VOICES - How Baja Dogs Got Started

In 2003, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. Over the next 28 months, while nursing him in my home town of Port Coquitlam, I lost my mom, my closest friend and her family plus my father. During this devastating time, I needed a reason, a purpose to go on. Knowing that my husband was terminally ill, to keep myself going, I made a list of what I could do to make a difference. One of the things I thought of was to return to La Paz and help the tick ridden, starving dogs I had seen along the highway as we had driven south on previous vacations. My husband died in April of 2005. I planned to return to Mexico with my 3 dogs but unbelievably, I lost both my Jesse to bone cancer and my Annie before I was able to make my trip south in October, 2005.

Finally arriving in La Paz and thinking I could outrun my grief, I started to work on my dream. I approached the head of the small community where I lived in El Centenario, and asked him if I could go into the schools and speak to the children about respecting animals, promoting a spay and neuter program and prevention of diseases than can be spread by sick dogs. I thought it strange when he asked me if I could give them something to eat but I said yes. I thought he meant a cookie. A short time later he took me to the school and announced in front of the children that this was the lady who was going to give them breakfast everyday. That is how the first of two breakfast programs for 80 children got started.

Still determined to help the animals, I opened an "association civil", a registered charity. The paperwork was horrendous and of course, in spanish. I made a lot of mistakes. Mexico, I quickly found, operates very differently than Canada; they love paper.

I then purchased an older house on the highway in El Centenario. I quickly learned that there are dog limit restrictions and I was unable to keep the number of dogs under this limit. People threw dogs and pups over the fence. We couldn't keep up. Sick dogs spread diseases and tick infestations occurred . It got out of hand and I knew we had to move. A wonderful couple form Port Moody, BC, donated 3 hectares of ranch land to us. I then started to construct a refugio. It was very challenging. In Mexico, construction is male dominated. Even though I had tons of experience in Canada, building in Mexico was a challenge. None the less, the refugio was built. I used my own funds for all of the construction I also had also been subsidizing the monthly expenses, but by 2008 I was not able to continue doing this. The Board, refugio committee and volunteers donated a lot of what was needed including food, bleach, etc., but the monthly expenses were what kept us awake at night. We were having a hard time paying electricity, telephone, staff payroll , medicine and veterinary fees.
We are tax deductible in the US and need to find a way to become so in Canada and Mexico. Our expenses are approximatley $2,500 US and our donations have fallen to $1,100 US. We have only 2 - 3 months to increase our monthly donations or we will be out of funds. Our expenses are based on caring for approximately 50 dogs at one time.

Unfortunately, we have had to turn dogs away, and this is heartbreaking. To date, we have seen 545 dogs enter the refugio and have adopted many locally with 214 going to Canada and the US.

I am appealing to all of you who have read our Newsletters and love to hear our Happy Tails of the unwanted, abused and starving pups who now live in loving homes. Please consider donating monthly. Go to Paypal and allow us to keep doing the work we are. I guarantee every cent is used for the care of the dogs.

A monthly donation of only $10.00 will feed a medium sized dog for a year.
Dhorea Ryon
Founder and President of Baja Dogs

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