Pacific Beach Online.com -Pacific Beach California
Rosarito Animal Shelter Needs Help Article
Group forced to move, faces legal problems
The Baja Animal Sanctuary has been forced to move twice in the last few months and is now facing possible legal procedings to close it down.
As a volunteer at the shelter for a long time I can say that they have a lot to help rescue and rehabilitate many animals that have been badly abused.
The article below is reprinted from SignONSanDiego.com, the local San Diego newspaper website for The Union Tribune Newspaper
If you would like to help out the animal shelter please email them or visit their website at http://www.bajadogs.org
Rosarito Animal Shelter run by Americans May be Forced to Close
ROSARITO BEACH ' An animal rescue group that gathers stray dogs and sends them across the border for adoption in the United States is facing increased scrutiny by Mexican officials that could result in the closure of its shelter.
The Baja Animal Sanctuary, supported largely by U.S. donors, has come under fire in recent weeks after complaints that mangy dogs had infected children from a neighboring orphanage.
Rosarito Beach officials said Friday that four children from the Rancho del Niño Nueva Vida had tested positive for scabies. Though there has been no conclusive proof that dogs from the sanctuary were the cause, the complaints have drawn the attention of federal, state and city agencies.
"I haven't done anything but help this city," said Sunny Benedict, the sanctuary's founder and president. She says her group has taken in 7,000 stray dogs over the past seven years. "We're picking up dogs from the street. Is that a bad thing?"
Rosarito Beach city officials say they are concerned about the conditions of the dogs and the possible public health hazard they represent. In addition, they say, the center doesn't have the proper land-use and building permits at a new facility where it moved the animals this month.
"At the beginning, the animals were very well cared for (at the original shelter), but they let it go," said Dr. Arnulfo Bracamontes, the director of medical services for Rosarito Beach.
Bracamontes said he is awaiting reports from state and federal health inspectors before taking any action against the shelter. Closing the facility could be an option, he said, but that could only be done through a series of legal steps.
Until this month, the Baja Animal Sanctuary operated in a semi-built villa in Colonia Morelos, outside the town. The landowner had been asking the shelter to leave, Benedict said, because he wanted to subdivide the property. The landowner could not be reached for comment.
But the sanctuary had trouble finding a new site.
Complaints from the orphanage next door compounded the pressure. "They didn't have the hygiene that they were supposed to," said Beatriz Morales, the orphanage's director. "Dogs were loose out on the street."
Morales said she had been complaining about the center, but got little response from public officials until Ecos de Rosarito, the local newspaper, wrote a series of critical articles about the shelter.
The shelter was forced to vacate this month, Benedict said, when the landlord ordered them out within a week. The animals ' 280 dogs, 40 cats and one horse ' were hurriedly moved several miles away to a new shelter the sanctuary was building at an unpopulated location in Rosarito's backcountry.
Last week, some dogs roamed freely inside the walled compound at the new site, while others clustered inside concrete-block stalls. The cats sat inside a used trailer bought by the group.
Benedict said the criticism mystifies her. She highlighted the sanctuary's successes: nursing animals back to health and finding loving homes for many of them across the border.
"We did the best we could with what we had to work with," Benedict said about the former site. And once completed, "the new site will be ten times better" than the city's dog pound, she said.
At its new shelter, the sanctuary has been caught between the new landowner and the city ' the former saying the shelter doesn't need any permits, while the latter insisting that it does.
Though there are few fond feelings these days between Benedict and Rosarito officials, they agree on one point: Rosarito Beach, a city of 90,000, has a serious problem with stray dogs.
Dr. Jesús Velasco, the secretary-general of Rosarito Beach and former head of medical services for the city, said the dogs sift through garbage, hang around taco stands, transmit disease and sometimes become aggressive.
Benedict, a former Orange County real estate agent, opened the shelter in 1997, after moving to Rosarito and noticing the number of stray dogs. Rosarito officials at first welcomed the sanctuary, she said. An official certificate of appreciation hangs in her office.
Today, the group, registered as a nonprofit on both sides of the border, claims nearly 3,100 members who support the center with donations. Last year's budget was more than $80,000, Benedict said. The sanctuary is trying to raise $90,000 to complete its new shelter, staffed mostly by recovering drug addicts from a local rehabilitation center.
The center has strong links with a number of San Diego groups and businesses. Together with the Petco and PetSmart corporations, it operates dog adoption programs in San Diego County on weekends.
Rosarito Beach's government has taken measures to control the stray dog population in recent months. In June, the city opened its first dog pound. And now city officials say they can take care of the stray dog problem without the sanctuary's help.
The dog pound catches 40 to 50 dogs a day, said Bracamontes, the city's director of medical services. Every third day, about 100 dogs are electrocuted, in accordance with state regulations, Bracamontes said.
Benedict insists her sanctuary is still necessary. It doesn't kill the animals, and conducts spaying and neutering programs, she said. "We believe the animals have another option, that they don't need to be electrocuted."
The sanctuary's capacity is limited to 500 dogs ' a number that Rosarito Beach officials say does not even make a dent in the stray dog population. And the city cannot afford to sterilize all the dogs wandering the streets, said Velasco, the city's secretary-general.
The Baja Animal Sanctuary can stay if it gets the proper permits and meets health standards, Velasco said.
"They can keep having their sanctuary, as long as they respect the law."
Union Tribune writer Sandra Dibble:
Letters from Website Visitors
Here are some of the letters we have received regarding the story on the Baja Animal Sanctuary.
Name: Leslie G.
Message or Question:
Government shelters that deal with strays by electrocuting them, are far from humane and although they may be legal, they are clearly not an enlightened solution.
Rosarito should welcome the help of caring people, not hinder and denounce their activities.
If the Baja Animal Shelter is forced to close I will think twice about visiting Rosarito again.
Name: Robin H
BAS is a "NO KILL" animal shelter; BAS is not a "pound" that kills animals within 1 to 3 days after taking them off the streets. Rosarito's number one source of revenue is tourism, especially United States and Southern California residents. No tourists, no money. Tourists are very distressed about the plight of stray dogs and cats in Baja. Here are some of the wonderful services that BAS provides, both in Rosarito Beach and the U.S.
* Rescues abused, dumped, stray, lost, sick, abandoned
animals (removes these animals off the streets for the city),
Here is an excerpt of a letter from the woman who runs the shelter regarding her situation and the horrible ?solution? that the Rosarito Beach city government is implementing to get rid of the stray dogs: they are being rounded up and inhumanely electrocuted.
1) The City of Rosarito is not adhering to THEIR guidelines, which were presented to BAS, and they (the city) expect BAS to be in compliance with...
All "shelters" must have electricity. The Perrera does not. They are trying to electrocute the dogs with a generator, which does not put out enough voltage to do the "job". Therefore, the animals suffer an excrutiating death. If the generator doesn't do the trick, the carcasses are thrown into a firepit.
All "shelters" must have water/drainage. The Perrera does not. Two BAS volunteers talked their way into the Perrera. The caretaker said the animals had not been watered for three days. These volunteers went prepared with water/food. Although the dogs hadn't been fed for three days, they were more interested in the water offered them. This was several weeks ago, when we were still suffering from high temps and the Santa Ana winds.
All "shelters" will not allow the "sacrifice" of animals to be conducted in the presence of minor children. There is a young boy, about 8 yrs. of age, living with his caretaker parents at the Perrera that explained to me in vivid detail how the animals are killed. This same youngster was in the truck with the workers from the Perrera, and witnessed the animals being captured and dragged to the truck. I know....I was right behind the truck, as it made it?s "sweep" throughout Rosarito. Why isn't this child in school?
The City claimed, in the ECOS de Rosarito newspaper, that they had expended 250,000 pesos for the construction of the Perrera (or approx. $24,000 dlls.). I have a copy of the article if anyone would like to read it.
Do you have any idea how many animals could have been neutered/spayed in this region for that amount of $$? As I have said many times, they can run around 24/7 with their Perrera truck, and kill 60 - 80 dogs per day. That is not the solution to the problem, because there will always be some left behind to reproduce. Dr. Bracamontes, who was quoted by Sandra Dibble in the U.T. article, has never been to BAS, although several meetings were conducted with him and BAS volunteers last year. These volunteers include Maureen Quinn, Sandra Simpson, Karen Brady, and Sandra Mehas. How can he make a statement as to the condition of the Sanctuary, when he has never physically visited, although he was invited on many occasions?
I, personally, was threatened by the Director of the Perrera, Marco Lopez, when I tried to retrieve a BAS dog that was captured intentionally, in order to create further harassment towards BAS. He pointed his finger in my face and said "You will always have problems with me, no matter where you go." He then told the workers at the perrera to fire up the generator, and the next thing I heard were the screams coming from over the walls. Of course, this was done in an attempt to intimidate, as he had our BAS dog, and he wasn't going to release her. I got in my van, and backed it up to the gates of the old BAS site. I sat in the van, explaining to the BAS workers what had just transpired, when Marco Lopez and six or seven Perrera workers, came out of the Perrera and walked towards my Van with lassos. I just sat in my van and took photos. Another intimidation attempt. On a good note, the dog "Changa" was released to BAS after three days. She is here in the office with me.
Sandra Dibble did herself a terrible injustice....she should have gone to the Perrera, as I suggested. I told her she would not find any mangy, ill dogs there. The are all unfortunate pets, that the owners were not properly tending to, and just happened to be in the street at the wrong time. Why take good, healthy dogs? Because SOMEONE MIGHT POSSIBLY SHOW UP WITH SOME $$ AND PAY A RANSOM TO GET THEM BACK! There's no $$ to be made with street dogs. We currently have two dogs; the one of our workers paid the caretakers at the Perrera to give to BAS. A white Italian Spitz that delivered 6 puppies one week ago, and a Great Dane, and hopefully will soon be on his way to Great Dane Rescue.
That's all I have to say, except for the fact that I have tons of photos of dead dogs, all over Rosarito, that have either been dumped by their owners, probably for lack of owning a simple thing like a shovel. The City wants to talk about BAS creating health problems? And, what about tons and tons of rotting trash all over the sides of the roads, for lack of a proper trash dump within the City? Health problems? I have photos.
It is sickening to any rational human being to imagine these horrors being perpetrated on helpless animals.
Please do whatever you can to ensure that BAS is allowed to continue to operate in Rosarito Beach, and to encourage the city government officials to stop this horrible inhumane killing of the stray animals.
This issue is going to get immense publicity here in San Diego, in California, and in the United States and that is not good for Mexico and for its tourism industry. I personally am canceling my scheduled holiday trip to Cabo San Lucas. I?ve gone every year for five years but I cannot continue to support the Mexican economy if this is an example of how my dollars will be used.
Name: m. macklin
Message or Question:
An unfortunate situation has arisen in Rosarito. It
seems that the Baja Animal Sanctuary is under attack once again by the local government. This time the employees are being shot at. Anyone who opens a facility to help
homeless animals is a criminal?
Sincerely, Ms. Macklin
baja animal sanctuary, baja animal shelter, rosarito dog