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Dog Rescue across the San Diego Tijuana Border

Posted on 9/15/2013 by Ali Meza in personal dog health dog rescue Pepe Mexico

La Historia de pinche Pepe.

This blog is supposed to be about hiring a dog walker in San Diego, dog running, and dog health. And it will be. I promise. But dammit, something came up. So this post is about search and (dog) rescue across the world's busiest international border, AND includes cute puppy photos! If you can't get behind that, you're a robot.


A couple months ago, I was visiting my Sweetie and his family in Tijuana. They only live 25 miles from my house in San Diego, but once you cross that border, everything changes. Most notably for me is the philosophy toward dogs. It’s a bit shocking at first. Aside from the fact that people don't recognize the value of walking their own pets, there are stray dogs everywhere. EVERYWHERE. In Mexico, most people are confused or horrified at the thought of spaying/neutering. Combine that with an almost nonexistent shelter or humane society, and you get stray dogs, on every street, most of them sick and hungry. I could write volumes of social commentary about Mexican dog culture, but I'll save that for another post. 


So, in Tijuana, I saw an adorable little perrito walking across the street, which happens all the time when I’m down there. All of a sudden, my stomach dropped, and I had to cover my open mouth with both hands in horror as he dashed across the street, through traffic, to greet me. A car slammed on the brakes and honked, but he was undeterred. Que pendejo. I noticed that he couldn’t put weight on his back leg and his eyes were infected. He was also filthy dirty, covered in ticks, and he had mange. But his tail was wagging, and he was so mellow and friendly. I just couldn’t leave him. So I picked him up, and carried him back to my sweetie's house. 

He seemed so comfortable in my arms, and was asleep almost immediately after I picked him up. I was supposed to return to San Diego that day, and I had no idea what to do with this little guy. I decided to stay another night to figure it out. I recruited my boyfriend to take me to the only vet clinic open at 7:30pm on a Sunday night, and held this little, mellow, sleepy dog in my arms the entire way.


El Veterenario said he was 1 or 2 years old, and reasonably healthy for a street dog. His leg wasn’t broken, and we bought eyedrops, vitamins, and medication for his skin. I wanted to get him vaccinated so I could take him across the border, but I found out that he needs two rounds of vaccines, a week apart, in order to be given a license to cross the border. I seriously considered smuggling him across the border. If you don't think I'm loca yet, just keep reading...


We bought a crate for him to sleep in on the patio that night, and gave him food, water, and medicine. I sat with him and removed a few ticks from his skin. I already knew I would have to bathe in anti-parasite shampoo for a while. But I didn’t care. I still had to find a home for him, at least for a week, until we could get his second round of vaccinations. Baja Dog Rescue didn’t have any room. Facebook was a no-go. I was up all night checking on him, and worried that if I didn’t find a home for him, I’d have to release him back to the street, where he would eventually succumb to his infections and infestations. 


BUT THEN! The next day, my boyfriend’s aunt, Jaros, said she could adopt him, and would nurse him back to health using the medication I bought. I wanted to kiss her on the mouth! I’ve never been so grateful. She instructed us to drop him off at the groomer near her house, and she would pick him up after work. The groomer stuck him in a cage, in a stinky back room with, crying, desperate dogs, and something inside me said “don’t leave him.” But I had to. He would be in a good home tonight. So I left for San Diego. 


BUT THEN. I checked in with Jaros that week, and I was horrified to discover that she gave him to a neighbor, without his medication! Jaros said didn’t think the neighbor was taking good care of him, because she saw him running around the streets. She didn’t know where the neighbor lived, so I couldn’t go get him. 


Desperate, I recruited my boyfriend again and did something not at all kinda cray cray. I drove across the border to look for the dog on foot in Jaros' neighborhood. Her teenage son Paco helped us look, but we didn’t find him. I was distraught, but we had a 4+ hour border wait ahead of us, so we had to head back. I offered Paco $100 U.S. if he found the dog, but I doubted he took the crazy gringa dog lady very seriously. I knew I did my best, but it was little consolation. I was ready to never see him again.

But guess what? 

Paco found him.

And grabbed him. 

And took him to the vet. They bathed him, removed his ticks, gave him his second round of vaccinations, aaaaaaaand his license to cross the border! My sweetie and I drove back to get him, and I happily handed Paco a crisp hundy. This was a hard-fought victory.


Now the little dog lives with us. His name is Pepe LePiu (Mexican Spelling), because he is black and white and likes humping cats. Seriously: 

Plus my boyfriend thinks he is stinky (I like how he smells). He is so mellow, confident and independent, and is the least anxious dog I have ever met. He is definitely still a puppy, and makes me belly laugh daily. He even gets this crazy smile on his face whenever I come home, and when he wakes up and sees me:

His mange has totally healed, and his eyes and leg are getting there. Potty training has been easier than I thought, and my whole family has fallen in love with him. My dad is even vying to keep him. Dog rescue success! 


Do you have any dog rescue stories? Leave a comment below and tell me about your furry babes! 

xoxo -Ali


Spanish index:

Pinche          Expletive derogatory adjective. Literally means "sous chef"

Perrito           Little dog

Que pendejo  What an asshole

Loca             Crazy

Gringa          White Lady