For a dog who lost an eye after being severely beaten with a metal pole, Chana is a gregarious mutt, wagging her tail and nuzzling anyone who approaches. The tan pooch, who resembles a well-fed dingo, came to the United States from Mexico earlier this year with help from the Santa Rosa-based nonprofit Compassion Without Borders.
Chana’s current accommodations, at the newly opened Muttopia shelter on the southwestern outskirts of Santa Rosa, are compliments of a $750,000 donation Compassion Without Borders received to purchase the land and set up a shelter.
The gift came from a bequest to the Center for Animal Education and Protection, or CAPE, by Lisa Landey, a San Rafael attorney who died last year.
Landey “wanted the money to save the lives of as many dogs as possible and CAPE thought they would best respect her wishes by giving it to us,” said Christi Camblor, a veterinarian and director of Compassion Without Borders. The group, which opened Muttopia in December, works to find homes for dogs in its care.
“We’re still pinching ourselves that we have this property,” Camblor said. “It was such a generous gift.”
The animal welfare nonprofit that Camblor co-founded in 2001 with her husband, Moncho, operates in low-income communities in both California and Mexico. Chana was rescued in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, a city on the mainland side of the Gulf of California where Compassion Without Borders established a clinic.
In California, in addition to the Santa Rosa shelter off Butler Avenue, the organization has a bilingual mobile clinic called the Esperanza Truck, which offers free vaccinations, spaying, neutering and other services. On Sunday, Camblor will take a short drive in the Esperanza Truck from Muttopia to Roseland where she expects to serve the pets of more than 100 people.
Camblor says the rising costs of veterinarian services, and living costs more generally, acutely affects the pets of low-income people.
“People love their animals and are trying to do the best they can,” Camblor said. “It’s sad that dogs suffer and people have to lose their pets because of money.”
In the case of Chana, who Camblor said was beaten by her prior owner, the brightest outlook is one that strives to help people and pets, Camblor said.
“The owners probably need just as much help as the animals,” she said.
Muttopia currently has 20 dogs on the premises, from both Mexico and California. The facility has a total capacity of roughly 70 dogs, but Camblor expects to house 50 dogs at a time when the shelter is fully operational.
Over the past 15 years, Camblor has brought dogs like Chana to the U.S. for adoption, but with the new facilities she’ll be able to increase the number significantly. It costs up to $300 to bring a dog into the U.S. from Mexico, Camblor said. Required paperwork includes proof of a rabies vaccination and a health check to prove the dog does not have a disease.
Chana, who only a few months ago had an abusive owner, already has someone interested in adopting her, Camblor said with a smile.