By Noah Y. Rue
“Adopting a dog is a great decision that helps to reduce the growth of our over populated rescue organizations, as well as giving good dogs good homes. In fact, we should all consider adopting before looking for a breeder. Many great dogs are living in rescue that could be living in loving and caring homes.
While the rescue groups should be searched locally it sometimes occurs that homeless dogs are found outside our normal living environments – perhaps while traveling. A longtime contributing writer recently visited Mexico and found there were many adoption opportunities here and has offered the following article as advice to those who may wish to adopt a deserving “foreign national”.
I hope you find the article interesting and helpful. Let us know by sending us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Adopting Stray Dogs From Mexico: What You Need to Know
Walking through the streets of Mexico, you may expect to find taco stands, panaderias, raspados, vegetable carts selling chayote and corn with cream and chile powder. Depending on where you visit, you may look to the horizon and see a rolling sea, mountains topped with pine trees and littered with lakes, cacti and desert landscapes, and more. Mexico offers a diverse culture that can take you by surprise and lead you to find unexpected sights.
More than likely, however, you will find stray dogs wandering the streets no matter where you visit. For many tourists, the temptation to rescue one and bring it home with them is strong, and some of them cannot resist that temptation. However, the process of adopting an animal presents a series of challenges for tourists in the U.S. and Canada who decide to make this a reality. However, these challenges can be overcome with the right planning and knowledge.
Making the Right Decision
You will likely encounter over a dozen dogs in Mexico that all need homes. Your heart will probably break over each one – puppy eyes are no joke, and have been scientifically proven to affect humans. You will probably imagine yourself taking all of them home. However, adopting a dog is a serious matter. You need to make sure that you can commit to the dog, and that you aren’t just caught up in the moment.
What to Consider
Though you might not have to pay adoption fees, taking a dog home can be expensive. You have to consider the usual costs of keeping a dog, possible extra fees at your hotel, and the cost and practicality of travel plans. You also need to think past your trip and ask yourself if you can handle all the responsibilities that come with a dog.
- Do you have the money to bring your dog home?
- Can you afford a dog once you get home?
- Do you have enough time for the preparations?
- Do you have time to take care of a dog at home?
- Is your living situation dog friendly?
- Do you have roommates that want a dog in their living space?
- Do you have allergies to dogs?
- Do you have other dogs?
Additionally, you never know what kind of experiences the dog has been through. If they have ever been through any sort of physical abuse, they might have anxiety or aggression issues. These will take patience, training, and potentially many frustrating moments that you need to be okay with.
Choosing a Dog
If you are considering adopting a dog, you have probably noticed by now that there is no shortage of dogs roaming the Mexican streets. You may have had a few dogs come up to you looking for scraps of food at this point, and your heart might be imploring you to take one home. However, it is important once again to pause and ask yourself a few questions:
What kind of dog can you take care of? Consider your living situation: Do you have an apartment or a house? Do you have a yard for your dog? If not, you will likely want to choose a smaller dog, or come up with ways to exercise your dog every day, like taking your dog to the park, going on a long walk with them before and/or after work, or buying a dog treadmill, then you may be able to make it work.
If you already have a dog, think about how the dogs will react to each other. Is your dog at home aggressive or territorial? Is the dog in Mexico aggressive, anxious, or show any signs of behavioral issues?
If you find an adoptable dog and truly have the means and the environment to make it happen, then proceed with the arrangements. If you don’t, then it might be best to adopt a dog at a later time when you have the ability to do so. After all, there are dogs in need of a home everywhere, and it’s better to wait until you can take the best care of the dog. The worst thing you could do is take a dog to an unknown city, bring them home, and bond with them, only to decided you can’t take care of it and leave it at your local pound.
Spontaneously adopting a dog might be a bit of a stressful process and requires that you have a day or two to dedicate for preparations. The first task to accomplish is to see that the basic needs of your dog are met. If you found your dog on the streets, odds are that your pup needs some food and water, so go to the closest grocery store and buy a bag of dog food and get your dog some water.
When buying food, consider how much longer you will be in Mexico and how long your dog will need until you get home. If you are flying home, you probably won’t be able to take back a huge, heavy bag of dog food.
The second matter of business is to get your dog cleaned up. Likely, they are going to be covered in dirt and grime that you don’t want to take into your hotel room or have in your car longer than necessary. Plus, your they will probably feel a lot better after a bath – even if they don’t care for the process themselves.
Third, you will want to get your dog a collar, tag, leash, and maybe a few toys or treats. Remember to be gentle with your dog and not overwhelm them. They don’t know what is going on, and after living on the streets, they might be afraid of people. Be as patient and understanding as you can.
In order to be able to take your dog home, you need to get medical clearance. Though it sounds like an intimidating process, it’s relatively simple. In order to get your dog across the border, you just need to provide a certificate of health and provide proof that they have had their necessary shots. For dogs over four months old, rabies are one of the mandatory shots. You might also consider getting anti-anxiety pills for the dog to take during the trip back home.
You can take your dog to a local animal shelter or veterinarian to get these medical procedures done. If possible, call ahead to make sure they have time to get everything done. This might be a difficult process if you don’t speak Spanish. If you are in a tourist area, it is likely that you may go to a place where someone speaks English. In case no one at the clinic speaks Spanish, here are some key phrases that may help:
- Necesito llevar mi perro a un veterinario o refugio de animales. I need to take my dog to the vet or an animal shelter.
- Puedo poner una cita para ahora/manana? Can I make an appointment for today/tomorrow?
- Necesito vacunar mi perro. I need to get my dog vaccinated.
- Necesito un certificado de salud. I need a health certificate.
- Quiero llevarlo a los Estados Unidos/ Canadá conmigo. I want to take him back to the United States / Canada with me.
You can practice pronouncing these on your way there, or you can write them down to show the clinic staff.
Once you have medical clearance, you are almost done with the hard part. The next important step is to get your dog’s travel plan in order. At this time, you will need to get a dog kennel, as it can provide an anxious dog with a safe space during travel, and can make it easier to get them places if you’re in a hurry. Plus, depending on your mode of transportation, a kennel may be required in order to travel.
Flying Your Dog Back Home
If you are flying home, you will need to call your airline and secure your dog a spot on the flight. This could cost you a couple hundred dollars depending on the airline. You might also have a couple options, such as paying extra to have your dog fly with you or having your dog fly in the cargo department. When you’re on the phone with the airline, make sure to ask about kennel requirements.
Driving Your Dog Back Home
Driving home with your pet – whether in an RV, bus, or regular car – is more cost-effective, but also comes with more variables. Since you are making an international roadtrip, it is likely going to be a long one. Be prepared to make lots of stops to take your dog to the bathroom. You might even want to buy a doggie diaper to avoid any accidents in your car, even if the dog is in a kennel.
Whether you use wings or wheels to get home, make sure to pack dog essentials. Packing a separate bag to keep on hand is a good idea; since you won’t yet be too familiar with your dog, you will want to be prepared for any situation. You should pack food, water, a leash, and toys or treats for distraction. Also bring along poop bags, some kind of cleaner, and paper towels to clean up any accidents.
Once you get home, you can relax and let your dog get used to his new home. Again, it’s important to be patient. Getting used to a new environment and lifestyle might take some time at first, but your dog is bound to love their new home.
There is nothing better than going on vacation, except going on vacation and bringing back a best friend. They may not be the souvenir you expected, but they will provide you with years of love, laughter, and great memories of the time you adopted a dog from Mexico.
Important references provided by the author:
Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.