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Homeless border dog with head tic and injured leg needs vet care and home

Diane, the stray "Border Dog" needs vetting and a home
Diane, the stray "Border Dog" needs vetting and a home
Perla Ortegan

Tijuana, Mexico - On Dec. 30, a female stray dog with a few medical issues was found wandering the streets of Tijuana along the U.S.-Mexico border. Named Diane, she has an injured leg and seems to have a neurological disorder (head tic), which is believed to be the result of having survived a bout with distemper.

Diane, the stray "Border Dog"
Perla Ortegan

But, this story was not supposed to be about Diane. It was supposed to be about another sickly female stray dog desperately in need of rescuing from the unforgiving streets of Tijuana.

Shortly before Christmas, an American man parked his car on the U.S. side of the border and walked into Tijuana to tend to some business. After his business concluded, he waited in line to make his way back into the U.S. While waiting in line that seemed to have come to a complete standstill, he heard a deep, hacking cough over to his right side. He looked to see where the cough was coming from, whereupon he saw one of the most pitiful sights he had ever witnessed in his life: a sickly female basset hound-mix with teats dragging on the ground.

Although this man is an animal-lover and has taken in his fair share of abandoned street dogs, he is not an "animal rescuer," per se. Additionally, the basset hound was on Mexico's side of the border, and he had neither the know-how, nor the resources to get the sick dog across the border and into the U.S.

The sick dog's physical appearance was described by the man as being all tan in color (no markings), and the distinctive short legs and very long ears of the basset hound breed. She also had large teats hanging very low to the ground. He was unsure whether the dog had just given birth, or was pregnant. Although she looked a lot like a basset hound, it was obvious she was mixed with another breed or breeds. Also remarkable was her deep, hacking cough, which the man described as so severe that each cough would stop her dead in her tracks, and her head would lurch violently forward and downward toward the ground with each cough.

The man contacted his sister, who happens to be an animal rescue advocate. The problem is there are thousands of abandoned animals that wind up at the U.S. border entry/exit along San Ysidro and Otay. According to CNN, "[a]n estimated 7,000 animals spend their day dodging traffic, looking for scraps and living - and dying - in the streets of Tijuana, Mexico." Finding the sickly female was like finding a needle in a haystack - or so the saying goes.

Cognizant of the fact that finding the dog was fraught with uncertainty and doubt, the man's sister reached out to Kerri Shaffer-Ross and Perla Ortegon, both of whom are wonderful independent animal rescue advocates in the Southern California area. Ortegon often works closely with rescue organizations and other independent rescuers dedicated to saving and finding good homes for needy, stray animals along the Mexican border.

Ortegon immediately contacted her fellow animal rescue advocates who work and live in and around the San Ysidro border area.

It was a long shot at best, but animal rescuers in this area are a tenacious bunch. They started visiting the area where the sick basset hound was seen and even asked local venders about her. After days of looking for this girl, Ortegon received the news that the sick dog had been found and was taken to one of the rescuer's home. This is where Diane's story begins.

Upon closer inspection, the dog the rescuers picked up from the streets of Tijuana was not the sick basset hound - although she has some of the same physical characteristics of the basset hound mix. Her head also does lurch downward, but it is caused by a head tic, not a cough.

This dog may not be the basset hound they sought out to rescue, but they're certainly not going to release her back into the streets to fend for herself. True to form, the rescuers are trying to do all they can to get her vet care and placed into a good home. Like with all rescues, the first order of business was to make the stray feel like he or she "belonged" - hence, she was given the name Diane.

Unfortunately, rescuers in Tijuana are not in any position to provide the kind of vet care Diane needs, including a spay procedure. In fact, these are independent rescuers. Despite their own daily struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table, they still selflessly rescue needy stray animals. In addition, they are over capacity with their own rescues. Therefore, donations are desperately needed to get Diane medical attention and into a boarding facility until a foster or permanent home can be found. Boarding is not the ideal situation for Diane, but it beats the alternative.

If you can find it in your heart to donate some spare change, please donate by visiting Baja Dog Rescue and clicking on "Donate." Please notate that your donation is for "Diane." If you can foster this girl, please contact Baja Dog Rescue at

Tijuana has been referred to as a "Third World City"where so many of its people live in abject poverty. It's not surprising, then, that the plight of animals is largely ignored by the government. In fact, animal cruelty and neglect is actually commonplace and even an accepted part of its culture. It's unfathomable to those who live in developed countries, but over there, it's fact.

For thousands of dogs (commonly referred to as "Border Dogs"), a miserable existence is all they know. Many have lived this existence every single day of their lives since birth. Border dogs are not just born to die; they are born to suffer and die. Unvaccinated, Border Dogs are susceptible to a multitude of canine diseases. Animals must scavenge for bits of food to survive. If disease doesn't kill them, then starvation will - either of which means prolonged suffering and agony. (See video footage of a stray dog living in a Tijuana dump.)

Although it is impossible to save them all, Diane needs help, including medical attention and a good home. Any help will make it much easier for these independent animal rescuers to save other Border Dogs in need, including the sickly female basset hound mix, for whom they continue their search.

Again, if you can donate, please go to Baja Dog Rescue. Make sure you note that it is for "Diane." If you can foster or want to adopt Diane, send an email to

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