Please take a moment to read about Ceci Barraza – a hero for dogs in La Paz, Mexico.
It all started when Bonita, a stray dog, showed up at Ceci’s door one night in 2013 and kept returning every night to be fed. Two weeks later Bonita went into heat and many dogs followed her back to Ceci’s house. Ceci took Bonita to be spayed, but she couldn’t let sweet Bonita back onto the streets. So, Bonita found her forever home with Ceci, but she needed an expensive hip surgery. It took Ceci months to save money for the procedure, which was successful, and Bonita made a full recovery. This experience opened Ceci up to the possibility that she could rescue even more of the many street dogs wandering La Paz.
Next was Gorda, a neighbor dog who was tossed out of her home to live on the streets (unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence). Seeing that Gorda was in heat and being terrorized by other street dogs, Ceci again went into rescue mode, paying for veterinary care and finding her a forever home.
After this, the flood gates opened and, since 2013, Ceci has rescued hundreds of dogs, sometimes collaborating with rescue organizations to find forever homes, but always going into personal debt to pay for food, supplies, medication, and veterinary care. She asks for nothing in return and is willing to work hard to pay for the dogs she saves. Ceci has been creative in raising funds: printing specialty t-shirts for sale; raffling off merchandise; selling used clothing at flea markets-whatever it takes to keep money coming in so that she can help dogs in need. It has always been about the dogs for Ceci.
Some of the dogs we see Ceci care for require a lot of medical attention and expensive medications. Flea borne diseases are quite common in street dogs, as are severe malnutrition and skin diseases. She does everything she can to save a dog, whether it is special food for their skin, months living at the vet, or acclimatizing them to living in a home with other dogs. All of her dogs are well cared for, regardless of the challenges involved, and they come to the U.S. with a clean bill of health.
A lot of people don’t understand why we help dogs in Mexico when the U.S. has dogs that need help. Dogs in Mexico are killed inhumanely: they electrocute dogs to put them down or may poison or shoot them. Also, the culture is different; not everyone thinks of dogs and cats as pets, but more like vermin. Mexico’s streets are covered with dogs and cats, and because most of them are not fixed, the population grows.
Like so many animal lovers who travel to Mexico, I was astonished and saddened by the number of dogs and cats roaming the streets of La Paz, which we began visiting in 1999. Early on, we would feed strays, but were disappointed by the lack of options there were for us to help these animals more substantially. That changed when we discovered that it was relatively simple to transport dogs back to the U.S. In 2004, our first rescue dog, La Pacena (Lapi) showed up at our hotel, where she had been abandoned. She was living in a tree-covered area for a few days and would emerge occasionally where we would feed her hot dogs by the swimming pool. When I heard that the hotel owner was going to dispose of her, we decided to take her home to Tacoma. Lapi was a sweet, loving dog who was a big sister to many rescued dogs and cats. We still miss her and are thankful that she wandered into our lives and turned us into Baja Dog rescuers. Since that time, we have brought three more dogs to live in our home—Millie (who we had been advised to euthanize for distemper), Latte, and Rocket. They continue to bless us with their presence in our lives and have inspired us to support rescue efforts in La Paz for several years. In addition to rescue organizations, I had always heard about individual “rescatistas” living in La Paz who open their homes to stray animals purely out of compassion and at great personal cost, caring for upwards of 20 dogs. I was introduced to an amazing rescatista, Ceci, about a year ago and since that time I have become more involved in supporting her amazing rescue efforts. Desiring to make a more substantial contribution to Ceci’s labor of love, I am partnering with like-minded friends to form Mila’s Mutts so that we can support Ceci’s work in rescuing Mexican dogs and finding homes for them in the Pacific Northwest.
I live in the Seattle area with my amazing rescue pup Kona. My rescue journey started in 2013 when I lost my 14.5 year old GSD Raven. After grieving, I started looking to adopt and through friends found my way to a refuge in La Paz, Mexico where I found my Kona. She was a tiny 3-4 month old shy little girl and it was love at first sight. Kona and her littermates were found without their mom and rescued. Hearing their stories made me want to help others. Since, I've had about 22 dogs come through my home. Some of overnights and others for long foster stays. I met my sister Ceci in early 2016 through a rescue of a very sick puppy named Lunita. Ceci is the most hard working, caring rescuer who always does the right thing for the dogs even if its not easy. I love her and will always work to help her in the amazing work she does. Kona is also on board for helping to foster as needed! All the dogs I've helped with are so amazing and grateful to their adoptive families. It is simply inspiring.
Battle Ground, WA
We live in Battle Ground, Wa about 25 minutes from Portland, OR. We both have always loved dogs, together we have rescued 3 dogs (Willow, Avery, Milagros) with permanent beds in our home and decided our journey to save more dogs couldn’t stop there. Growing up Madii’s Mom was an avid dog lover. On lunch break she would walk dogs at the shelter and brought home a few of the dogs no one else would adopt. This ignited Madii’s passion. Mel has grown up with rescue dogs her whole life and had always wanted to help in some way. We were given the opportunity to start fostering dogs, which is how we met Ceci in early 2018. She saved a severely malnourished pup, whom had recently had puppies. Her name was Milagros (miracle), she survived a broken jaw and many cuts across her neck from a machete. We had no idea we would adopt Mila, we had only signed up to foster her. The day Mel met Mila she knew this was going to be her dog, even though we had a strict black dog only household. The rest is history and from that moment forward it kick started our passion for fostering and helping Ceci in anyway we could. We fostered 11 dogs last year, each one took a piece of us with them and we cant wait to fill our hearts and home with more!