Going beyond the border

Sara Parliman, VVTV Executive Director

Baja Dogs is a foundation that rescues and finds homes for stray dogs found on the  streets of La Paz, Mexico.

Teacher Brooks Hazen works closely with Baja Dogs in an effort to save and rescue animals in need.

“People wonder, ‘Why [adopt] Mexican dogs?’ you know? ‘We have dogs here in the United States.’ And even though I’m involved in the Humane Society here and I give money to animal organizations in the United States, [the dogs in La Paz] have no chance,” Hazen said. “There isn’t really a Humane Society down in La Paz; the Humane Society in Mexico is, they get picked up and put down.”

Tiffany Johnston, a past student of Hazen’s, and her husband Stephen Johnston rescued their dog, Lobo, in the last year and have since looked into adopting another dog.

“We actually didn’t go through the normal venues of adopting [Lobo] through Baja Dogs because we do know Mr. Hazen, so luckily for us it was just contacting Mr. Hazen and he took care of the rest, it was like magic,” Tiffany Johnston said. “However normally you’d e-mail the site and they do a little check up just to make sure that you have proper accommodations for the dogs and you can take care of them.”

Their experience with their energetic mutt Lobo has been life altering.

“I’ve seen dogs get attached to people but never quite like this,” Tiffany Johnston said. “[Lobo] knows when we’re getting ready in the morning because I get up and go to the bathroom. So he’ll sit at the end of the bed whining, like, ‘Mom, please don’t leave!’ It’s hilarious. When I say he has character, I could never put into words how great of a dog he is.”

Senior Jamie Denberger, sister of Tiffany Johnston, witnesses first hand the mannerisms of these rescue dogs.

“[The dogs from La Paz are] adorable and really funny. They’ve never set foot on grass before so they’re really hesitant. They haven’t really felt much other than cement and so they get really excited when they get to see this whole new world,” Denberger said. “Like when it snows, they get so excited! But they hate going out in the rain because they’re like, ‘Oh my God, my feet are wet, why are my feet wet?!’”

Hazen explains the straightforward and simple process of adopting these dogs.

“The process [to adopt a dog from Baja Dogs] starts by finding the dog and deciding to adopt it. Basically, you get all the shots the dog would need—since there’s all kinds of vaccinations that are required for the dogs in the United States—and you must show evidence that the dog has had those vaccinations,” Hazen said. “Then buy a carrier, buy a plane ticket and bring ‘em home! It’s pretty easy.”

The dogs adopted through Baja Dogs are uplifting and quirky pets.

“Out of all the pictures that we saw when we first started looking at Baja Dogs, Lobo was one of the dogs that I really liked at first and it’s kind of funny how Hazen brought [Lobo] to us. It was meant to be,” Stephen Johnston said. “Lobo is always smiling, if it really is true that dogs can smile then he’s smiling.”

For more information on the rescue of these dogs, visit the website for Baja Dogs at bajadogslapaz.org