By some estimates, 70% of dogs in Mexico are homeless. Amalia Garcia, an IBM volunteer, is actively addressing the problem where she lives in Chapala.
By some estimates,
70% of dogs in Mexico
are homeless.
Amalia Garcia, an IBM
volunteer, is actively
addressing the problem
where she lives
in Chapala

“In just five years, a cat—or dog—and her mate, can be responsible for up to 11,000 more births when you consider the offspring also having litters,” says Amalia Garcia, a first line leader for IBM in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“It’s a problem for everyone if those kittens or puppies are unwanted by their owners, which is often true, especially for people with limited means.”

Sometimes these young animals are simply left on the street—to either die, become a public nuisance, or in some cases, become a dangerous safety and health issue to each other and people.

Since 2012, Amalia has volunteered in Chapala municipality with Fundación Antonio Haghenbeck y de la Lama, an organization based in Mexico City dedicated to improving the quality of life of animals, including adoption, spaying and neutering, and healthcare.

Operation Amor

Amalia, who has four cats and two dogs, cares deeply about animals, and also understands the implications to people and the environment if they are abandoned.

For example, the problems caused by stray dogs are numerous, including car accidents, rummaging through human trash, noise, and the spread of disease.

By some estimates, 45 percent of homes in Mexico have a dog. However, of the country’s total dog population, about 70 percent are homeless—the offspring of unsterilized dogs or abandoned by their owners.

“People love their pets, but sometimes can’t afford the cost of spay or neuter surgery, or don’t understand the process,” says Amalia.

For that reason, Amalia serves on the clinics coordination committee at Fundación Antonio Haghenbeck y de la Lama, bringing her project management and negotiation skills into play.

“I specifically coordinate the clinics end-to-end,” she says. “Including looking for the location, making agreements with the local government for permissions and necessary supplies, inviting vets to participate, coordinating volunteers, obtaining medical supplies, and managing publicity.”

“Operation Amor,” as the program is called, provides spaying and neutering clinics for pet owners in Chapala municipality at no cost.

“We hold the clinics in neighborhoods, over the weekend, where people of limited means live, to make them easier to bring their pets and transport them,” Amalia says. “We look for locations like schools, community centers, and set up a temporary space with check-in, preparation, surgery, recovery and check-out areas—everything to run a three day clinic.”

The team also has a weekly program of spay and neuter surgeries where they provide the supplies and local vets provide their services.

Animals are free, owners are happy

Over the years of her volunteer work, Amalia has received several scholarships from the Humane Society International to attend animal care conferences.

“The information and lessons I’ve obtained at these conferences has been invaluable,” she says. “Experiences from other countries and other parts of Mexico can be applied in our clinics for things like organization, communication, donors, fundraising, animal behavior. I’ve picked up tips for partnering with the local government to request support, procedures to run a clinic in the field, and using social media to promote our organization.”

“The information and lessons I’ve obtained at these conferences has been invaluable,” she says. “Experiences from other countries and other parts of Mexico can be applied in our clinics for things like organization, communication, donors, fundraising, animal behavior. I’ve picked up tips for partnering with the local government to request support, procedures to run a clinic in the field, and using social media to promote our organization.”

Knowing that she has helped someone and their pet have better lives gives her satisfaction—though once there was some confusion.

Amalia tells the story of a pet owner who didn’t recognize her dog after a surgery.

“The dog had matted fur, so we groomed her and also put a t-shirt on her. When the owner came to pick up the dog, she didn’t think it was hers. Even though we assured her, she insisted it was not and started getting worried and upset. We showed her all the dogs in the clinic to show we didn’t switch dogs on her. Finally, she agreed when she saw the dog wagging its tail, excited to be with its owner.”

Amalia adds that “when we discharge the pets, it’s wonderful to see how the people care about them and are happy to see them awake and recovered after the surgery. And the pets are happy to see their owners too!”

“It is incredibly satisfying to see the animals free and the owners happy,” she says.


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