PHOENIX - Mexico has a stray dog problem. The government estimates there could be as many as 18 million stray dogs roaming the country. They're either born as strays or abandoned by their owners. Now a handful of Americans are trying to change that, one dog at a time.
It can be a long road to find your way home, especially for stray dogs scraping by on the dusty streets of Mexico.
But if they're lucky, they cross paths with someone like Barb Mumaugh, who is on a 20-year mission to save dogs after her dog died.
"Friends dragged me down here a couple years after she died and I saw the dogs and I instantly knew this is what I had to do," she said.
Barb is an ex-Pat living in Rocky Point, saving as many unwanted animals as she can. Many are sick, starving, injured, or abused, but all looking for love.
"They're so very grateful and have so much love to give. And just want love in return," she said.
Barb rounds up as many as she can load up. She checks and double checks for diseases, and then they head north to the promised land.
"Sometimes dogs in Mexico are seen as pests more than friends or family. Here in the U.S., we tend to treat our pets like friends or family. Welcome them with open arms. And basically take care of them," said Scott Peterson of HALO Animal Rescue.
At HALO's headquarters in north Phoenix, the healing begins -- like a halfway house for dogs. Trained staff evaluate each one for energy, irritability, and overall adoptability.
"If they have food aggression or toy, then we can get them the help they need. Sometimes it takes just a day or two. If they have individual needs, we can help them with that. There’s always a home for everyone," explained HALO's Erin Denmark.
HALO started accepting dogs from Mexico in 2018. By the next year, they were taking in more than 1,000. Virtually all of them were adopted by families in our area.
When the dogs are deemed fit for a family, the word gets out. The names, pictures and the backstories are posted online in hopes of finding a match to someone, like Stephanie.
"She stood out to me immediately because she just had this little face. And I fell in love with her right away."
Stephanie adopted her dog two months ago and gave her the name Kahlúa - because her fur coat is the color of coffee. Things were shaky to start, but it didn't last long.
"When I got her, she was scared, scared, scared. And then I put her over there on her bed and I waited. And it was almost instantaneous. She looked around and started to wag her tail and come to life."
From unwanted, afraid, and alone to shelter, safety, and someone to love. Welcome home, Kahlúa.
HALO Animal Rescue began in 1994. Since then, they've adopted out more than 60,000 animals. If you would like to learn more about the organization, head to https://www.halorescue.org.
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