Here for Street Dogs
August 03, 2023Aug 03, 2023
3 MIN READ doing good for planet
Dogs and volunteering are two very important aspects of life at KEEN. (So are homemade KEEN cookies, but that's another story.) Finding a way to combine both is about the KEENest thing a KEENer can do.
And that's exactly what KEENmate Brie Pierznik did this past spring when she traveled to Mexico to volunteer with Street Dog Hero, which helps dogs in need around the world through rescue, adoption, wellness, spay/neuter, and education. She used 16 of her 40 hours of KEEN paid service leave to help them spay and neuter street dogs and cats in Ciudad Constitucion, where overpopulation is a problem.
Here's more about Brie's experience and the hundreds of dogs (and cats) she helped:
How did you hear about/get involved with Street Dog Hero?
Street Dog Hero is a Bend, Oregon-based rescue group I follow on social media. They do 3 to 4 spay/neuter clinics a year in Mexico. I saw pictures from the clinic they did in the Yucatan on Instagram and immediately knew I wanted to volunteer at the clinic in Baja Sur. (I have a strong personal connection to Baja Sur, as I got married in Todos Santos and am planning to move to Loreto or Todos Santos within the next ten years.) I’m a huge dog lover, and these free spay/neuter clinics are the best way to make a positive impact at scale.
What did you do?
In May, I flew down to Baja Sur, Mexico, to volunteer at a free spay/neuter clinic hosted by Street Dog Hero. Over two days, we helped spay and neuter 582 dogs and cats in Ciudad Constitucion and Ciudad Insurgentes. At the clinic, I primarily worked in the “Recovery 2” section, where dogs are sent to sit with their owners and continue waking up from anesthesia before they can be released. I cleaned up bodily fluids (lots of pee and vomit), checked vitals, and helped remove fleas and ticks. I also sat with and comforted the street dogs who were brought into the clinic without an owner to wake up to. I got to interact quite a bit with the owners and rescue partners, and I got two full days of pretty intense immersion language practice.
On my way home, I also served as a flight angel for two street dogs (Chapo and Psico) selected for placement with American adopters. It was a profoundly moving experience. I cried multiple times that day knowing we were helping them get to much better lives. Chapo, in particular, stole my heart. He had an old injury to his back leg (likely hit by a car while living on the streets) that was never treated, and so he didn’t use that leg at all. Chapo and Psico were rescued in Mexico by Hogar Temporal Mejoramigo, another very deserving rescue group I am now supporting!
What was your favorite memory from volunteering?
It was amazing to connect with animal lovers from around the world who flew in to help with the clinic's important work, as well as the local rescue partners who collected street dogs for sterilization and promoted the clinic in their communities so folks could bring in their pets for this important free service. It was also amazing to be able to practice my Spanish extensively!
What's the biggest thing that you learned?
I learned that Mexicans will often name dogs who are good at escaping "Chapo" or "El Chapo." Hilarious.
What would you say to others interested in participating in this volunteer experience?
Do it! One of the best things I've ever done.