This summer, several College of

Veterinary Medicine students went on a

very special trip to help animals in Baja, Mexico, as volunteers at the

Baja Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary, which is the only no-kill shelter

in northern Mexico, provides a safe haven for dogs and cats in need.

More than 300 canine residents and 75 feline residents are housed there

at any given time. There is also a horse residing at the shelter.

The students who participated in this trip include Class of 2009 CVM

students: Mindy Buswell, Alicia Elwell, Kelly Flaminio, Vanessa Fravel,

Hana Hyun, Samuel Rivera, Dainna Stelmach and Lena Stuart and Avery

Woodworth (CVM 2007).

The student volunteers worked in teams and treated the animals at

the sanctuary. They cleaned and medicated wounds, ears, eyes, trimmed

nails, created treatment plans, de-wormed, administered medicine, and

performed many other tasks. In an effort to help make a lasting

improvement to their animal patient’s conditions, the group worked with

the santuary workers and discussed continued care, wrote out

treatment plans in Spanish, addressed the concerns of the employees, and

educated the staff at the facility.

One of the most challenging tasks they had to handle was treating animals

in the isolation area, which proved more complicated than some of the

other treatments they performed.

“”This is such an incredible learning and giving experience

for everyone,””

said Lena Stuart. “”For example, we rescued on pup that

was covered in ticks and fleas. He was so infested that his gums were

white. He had an open wound on his elbow and some of the bones were

showing. This little guy (Harry) is now thriving. He is an amazing

medical case also because he has Ehrlichia, a heart murmur (due to

pulmonary stenosis), is anemic, and has a hypothyroid.””

“”There are a few other complicated cases at the sanctuary that you will

not see often in the U.S., including parvo, distemper, and other various

parasites,”” Lena Stuart continued.

The Baja Animal Sanctuary (BAS) is a non-profit animal rescue,

rehabilitation and adoption group in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. The group

was started by an American, Sunny Benedict, in 1997. Sunny was a real

estate agent in Baja, and could not take seeing the many homeless and

mistreated animals in Baja. She resigned from her job and started the

rescue group on her own. The group does amazing work with the limited

resources they have. They do not have a veterinarian, and all veterinary

care comes out of donation funds.

“”The overall experience was priceless because we were able to provide

some level of relief to these animals that have such a great need, and

also because this level of exposure is just not available in a

classroom,”” said Samuel Rivera. “”I believe we contributed a brick in the

wall of wellness for many of these dogs and I would definitely return to

place an even stronger brick, when possible.””

Over the past year, several other CVM students

have helped BAS in numerous ways. They have donated their personal

supply of pet food to the sanctuary. They have also donated their

various flea, tick, and heartworm medicine to BAS. Additionally, one of

the college’s clubs has sent out hundreds of letters to veterinarians and

clinics in the area, asking them to donate anything they could, which

inspired a clinic in West Hollywood, Calif. to donate two boxes of

medicine, shampoo, fluids, etc.

The students are hoping to set up more visits and more programs with the

sanctuary, in an effort to make sure there are sufficient supplies and

training available at all times to keep the animals as healthy as


To learn more about the Baja Animal Sanctuary, please visit