Animal Advocates of the United States (AAofUS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to fulfill the following objectives: (1) Provide food and humane care for thousands of dogs and cats living on the streets of Mexico and in the Mexican perreras (dog pounds); (2) Encourage development of spay-and-neuter programs throughout Mexico, in order to break the cycle of overpopulation that leads to endless suffering for these animals; (3) Establish a network of foster families, from both sides of the border, where animals can be placed temporarily until they are adopted into loving homes; and (4) Provide more ethical, humane, and painless euthanasia for those animals too sick, injured, or unadoptable, and for whom there is no alternative.
Animal Advocates of the United States was founded in 2006 by Donna Liebrich and Marlene Revelen (pictured at left) after visiting a Mexican perrera, where hundreds of animals were waiting to die—many without food and water. Unable to erase the memory from their minds, Donna and Marlene have dedicated their lives to working with the Mexican government to prevent animal overpopulation and provide humane and compassionate care in perreras throughout Mexico.
Animal Advocates of the United States maintains a small but committed team of volunteers who are in Mexico every day to provide food and water to hundreds of dogs, as well as basic medical care to sick and injured animals. Animal Advocates of the United States also supplies the drugs for painless euthanasia to animals that are not adoptable, or sick or injured. Without support from donors like yourself, most of these animals would have no hope for adoption, and would die without humane, compassionate end-of-life care. AAofUS goes where others will not go, and does what others will not do—until the day when Gary K. Michaelson's funding produces the one-time birth control pill for all animals in overpopulated third world countries.
Americans can rest assured that, in most cases, homeless, abandoned, and unwanted animals in kennels and shelters across the United States will not be terrorized in their final moments, but rather, given an injection which first renders them unconscious and incapable of feeling pain. It is only then that lethal compounds are administered to put the animal to death. Complacently, many Americans may think this humane method of euthanasia extends to other parts of the world. The truth indicates otherwise—and indeed, the truth is very, very disturbing.
Just miles south of the American border and into Baja California and other parts of Mexico, the animals who are destined to die in the perreras (if they do not pass on from natural causes first) are brutally, unceremoniously, clamped with jumper cables connected to car batteries, wet down, and electrocuted. In many cases the batteries used are in such poor condition, and the charge put forth by them so weak, that the animals are made to endure repeated, protracted, and horrifically painful electric shocks before they finally succumb. Most people could not witness this sickening, stomach-turning spectacle and remain unscarred by it.
As abominable as their deaths are, one might think that death is, for these animals, something of a consolation compared to the animals who endure horrendous living conditions in the streets and perreras of Mexico. Overpopulation and neglect of homeless dogs and cats explodes to pandemic proportions in the poorest communities of Mexico especially, because these communities simply do not have the resources—human, economic, material, or otherwise—to put into place effective spay-and-neuter programs to prevent this overpopulation from happening in the first place. The inevitable result is a community overrun with sick, injured, malnourished, and often abused dogs and cats, many of whom also have puppies or kittens to care for. Moreover, it's a startling fact that among the animals in these communities, the dogs outnumber the cats many times over. The reason? Starving dogs kill the starving cats, and eat them.
Overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, the Mexican government has implemented a policy of collecting street dogs and cats, and temporarily sheltering them in the perreras. The dogs living in these quarters do not fare much better than the ones who will eventually be rounded up from the streets. Dogs in perreras are virtually imprisoned in small, cramped compounds, with cold, dirty cement floors and cinder-block walls. Many times dozens of dogs at a time are confined to a single room, where they sit, lie, and walk on floors covered with their own feces and urine. Not surprisingly, this unspeakable squalor promotes disease that spreads like wildfire among the dogs confined in such close, filthy quarters. Sometimes the dogs are placed in open-air kennels surrounded by chain-link fences, where they almost surely suffer hypothermia, and often die, due to the cold winter weather.
To the left is a slideshow illustrating in graphic detail the severe plight of homeless, abandoned, and unwanted animals in various parts of Mexico. Rolling your mouse over an image will halt the slideshow, and you will see a descriptive caption for that image. We realize that these images will be very disturbing, and heart-wrenching, to watch. We encourage you to watch anyway, and resolve to do your part to ensure that this atrocity never occurs anywhere in the world—whether in Southern California, or Mexico, or elsewhere.
United Hope for Animals—the parent organization of AAofUS—became the first animal-welfare organization to form a relationship with the Tijuana pound officials. Through our partnership with United Hope for Animals, AAofUS has established a system of ordering and distributing the medications needed to provide a humane passing for the sickest animals, as opposed to the cruel and brutal electrocution they suffer in the hands of perrera officials.
Since 2007 United Hope for Animals has been funding the Perrera program, and now all six cities of Baja California—Rosarito, Tecate, Tijuana, Ensenada, Saltillo and Mexicali—are, for the time being, no longer electrocuting homeless dogs! In December 2011, AAofUS negotiated the end of electrocutions in San Luis Rio Colorado. Perrera directors in Hermosillo, Portta, Pinasco, Cananea and Caborca have also agreed to end electrocutions in their shelters as well. But these victories are fragile, and entirely dependent on continuous funding from generous individuals like you, who wish to see the barbaric deployment of electrocution banished forever. Without a steady supply of the drugs and compounds needed for humane euthanasia, the possibility that these cities and provinces will return to electrocution always looms on the horizon.
The bitter irony for both AAofUS and UHA remains that euthanasia, a procedure seemingly odious in the face of our stated missions and goals, continues instead to be an integral part of them. No one wishes for an animal to be put to death, however painlessly, whenever there is a reasonable prospect of keeping her alive, rehabilitating her, and finding a worthy home for her. But until effective spay-and-neuter programs become more widespread in Mexico, approaching the norm enjoyed north of the border, most of the homeless animals in Mexico have no such prospects. Without painless euthanasia, the alternative for them is much, much worse: starvation, injury, disease, and often abuse and cruelty. Sadly, these animals will live only long enough to reproduce at any rate, thus ensuring that the vicious cycle of overpopulation, abysmal suffering, and termination continues unabated.
That is exactly why AAofUS's goals extend well beyond providing humane euthanasia. Through peaceable demonstrations, negotiations, and funding, AAofUS works hard to develop effective spay-and-neuter programs throughout Baja California. We have sought a few of the best veterinarians there, those who are willing to collaborate with us to provide high-quality spaying and neutering services at very low cost—in many cases, for as little as 10 to 30 dollars per animal.
Lastly, AAofUS is deeply committed to forming networks to assist in fostering as many animals as possible in temporary homes, until suitable "forever" homes can be found for them. Through such establishments as AdoptaPet, Petfinder (and coming soon, RescueGroups.org), we disseminate far and wide the information about the wonderful dogs and cats we have available for adoption.
There are many ways you can help AAofUS achieve its goals. One of the most noble of them is to commit to adopting, and providing care for, one of the dogs or cats we have available for permanent placement in loving homes. Regardless of where you choose to apply for adoption, you must never, never purchase a dog, a cat, a puppy or kitten from a breeder or a store that buys from "puppy mills." Always turn instead to a reputable no-kill shelter that works closely with rescue groups—or go directly to the rescue groups themselves. If you decide to adopt directly from AAofUS, you will rest secure in the knowledge that you spared the life of a dog or cat who would otherwise have endured some of the most egregious and brutal living (and dying) conditions to be found anywhere in this hemisphere.
But even if you don't have the resources to adopt permanently, you may be in a position to take in an animal temporarily. Many of AAofUS's volunteers foster animals on a regular basis. Some of them do fostering only, and have provided temporary housing for 80 animals or more, until they could be placed in more permanent homes. Visit our Fostering page for more information about becoming a foster volunteer.
Thirdly, you can choose to donate to AAofUS, and help ensure that funds will be available to spay and neuter animals in several Mexican cities and provinces in the Baja; provide food and medical care for sick and injured animals; and maintain the supply of compounds necessary to lend a peaceful end to the animals who are the least fortunate. You can even become a sponsor of AAofUS, and donate automatically at regular intervals, in any amount you choose (as long as it's at least $10 per donation). Rest assured that your contributions are tax-deductible as well. Visit our Donations page for information about creating your donor profile on Network for Good™, a nonprofit organization that works with thousands of nonprofit organizations worldwide to confer valuable benefits and services to donors and nonprofits alike. If you prefer not to donate online, please make checks payable to AAofUS, and mail to AAofUS, P.O. Box 262, El Cajon, CA 92022.
Lastly, if you have more time and energy than money, why not elect to become an AAofUS volunteer? AAofUS is an all-volunteer organization consisting of people from both sides of the border, and we constantly seek volunteers with many different skillsets. Even those with no particular skills—except the willingness to work hard on behalf of animals—can make frequent commutes across the Mexican border and back, delivering pet foods and medical supplies, as well as transporting animals to a better fate up north. Visit our Volunteer Opportunities page to read about the many ways you can become an AAofUS volunteer.