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
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