AR-News: (CA) Student rallies behing ill pets
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Tue Nov 4 09:43:33 EST 2003
By Cory Golden/Enterprise staff writer
In Mexico City, Christi Payne found 2,000 dogs and cats languishing in one
building, receiving little or no care, living on little food.
"It was such a slap in the face about how badly these animals needed help,"
she said. "I was overwhelmed by the situation. The situation here is bad, but
there it's awful."
After earning her bachelor's degree in animal biology from UC Davis in 2001,
Payne accepted an internship at an animal shelter in Puerto Rico, then a job
at one in Mexico. Now she is back at UCD, where she is a first-year veterinary
But the 27-year-old licensed veterinary technician from Palo Alto did not
forget those animals.
Her experience prompted her to raise funds for a mobile spay/neuter clinic,
donated to a Mexican animal welfare organization, and she has backed efforts
saving 140 dogs from the shelter where she worked.
During the week of Thanksgiving, she will lead her fourth spay/neuter camp
south of the border to help pets and their owners, while training local vets and
volunteers. So far, working with Payne, American vets have spayed or neutered
about 500 dogs and cats - including 150 over five days in April.
This will be the second camp held in the impoverished border town of Juarez
by her organization, Compassion Without Borders, and the Davis-based
Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights. Three Bay Area veterinarians and two
other veterinary technicians will join her.
In Juarez, just south of El Paso, Texas, stray dogs roam the streets, she
said. Feral cats are an abundant, though often hidden problem. Troublesome dogs
are routinely poisoned.
Others animals are rounded up at a collection center not set up for
adoptions. There, Payne said, animals receive no food or water for seven days; if an
owner does claim them, they are electrocuted.
Many of the pets, most of them dogs, brought to the spay/neuter camps are
underweight. Some are covered with dozens of ticks.
Their owners want to help them, Payne said, but are usually poor and hungry
themselves and have not been taught about proper care.
"I was told time and time again, spay/neuter wasn't part of the culture -
there are places (in the U.S.) where people still say that too - but we've found
people start lining up at 5 a.m. to get their pets spayed or neutered," she
said. "We can't meet the demand."
In addition to being sterilized if strong enough, dogs and cats are
vaccinated and treated for fleas, ticks, worms and other problems.
Payne, who speaks fluent Spanish, gives out written care information, and
owners are given pet food, collars and leashes.
Local vets and volunteers sharpen their skills alongside the Americans, and
are given donated surgical supplies to continue the work. Many veterinarians in
Mexico have never been trained to spay or neuter animals, she said.
Clothing, food, even children's toys are given to owners who bring pets to
"I think it's important they know that we're not just there to help the
animals, we recognize their needs, too," she said. "And we're providing them with a
local solution. We're not going to solve the problem - local groups are going
to solve it by keeping a steady spay/neuter program going."
Pam Runquist, director of companion animal issues for AVAR, said her
organization's goals fit the project.
"The vets want to help and there's a need, so it's a good fit ... She's
pretty remarkable," Runquist said of Payne. "She's very mature and she's very
driven - this has really become her cause."
Payne said she has been asked why effort should be expended in Mexico,
especially when there is a animal population problem in the United States, too.
Three more camps are planned for next year, but even with donated help they cost
about $8,000 each.
"These (veterinarians) are also helping animals here the rest of the year,"
she said. "I don't see why we can't extend a hand to our neighbors. I think
most people would be surprised how bad it is for animals just a mile across the
The reward, for Payne, has been a rich one.
"Every animal we sterilize," she said, "helps prevent an untold amount of
On the Web, see www.avar.org.
- Reach Cory Golden at cgolden at davisenterprise.
"I would not enter on my list of friends the man who needlessly sets foot
upon a worm." - Cowper
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