Blind, Starving Dog Lived On Cushion In Trash Pile For A Month

"He was so responsive to the slightest kindness."

Christi Camblor stopped the van when she spotted the old German Shepherd lying on the trash pile in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. The dog was skin and bones, and clearly in bad shape. If left there, he probably wouldn't live for another week.

"It was very sad to see him in that condition," Camblor, cofounder of Compassion Without Borders, an organization that rescues street dogs in Mexico, told The Dodo. "He was on this pile of trash, but he was trying to find a little comfortable space, so he was on this little torn-up cushion."

Dog living on a trash pile in Mexico
Compassion Without Borders

Unfortunately, starving street dogs are a common sight in Mexico, Camblor explained. Sometimes people "own" the dogs who wander the streets, but other times the dogs don't belong to anyone, and they're usually the ones who need the most help.

There was a market close to the trash pile, so Camblor and her team of volunteers asked some of the locals about the dog, whom they'd later name Don Felipe, to see if he belonged to anyone.

"They said that he was indeed homeless, and he'd been there for about a month, and that he was blind," Camblor said. "Everyone in the area knew him as the old, blind dog who lived in the trash pile."

Camblor had no idea if Don Felipe was friendly, so she cautiously approached him.

People helping a street dog in Mexico
Compassion Without Borders

"I didn't want to startle him because I knew he couldn't see," she said. "But the moment that I kneeled down next to him, he was so friendly. He responded really nicely to me petting him and touching him. I offered him some food, and he immediately ate it - he was voracious."

Camblor spent several minutes on the ground with Don Felipe, trying to show him that she meant no harm and that he was safe. When she sensed that he was comfortable, she scooped him up and put him in the back of her van, and drove to the organization's vet clinic in Puerto Peñasco.

"He actually sat in my lap in the back of the van," Camblor said. "He was so responsive to the slightest kindness, just leaning into me and enjoying his pets. He would have felt confused, for sure. He'd probably never been in a car, but he seemed ready to trust."

Don Felipe the dog was rescued from the streets in Mexico
Compassion Without Borders

Don Felipe was finally off the streets, but he still had a lot of physical issues to overcome, Camblor said. First of all, he was starving, which had made him weak and lethargic. He also had anemia, bad arthritis and an autoimmune condition that was partially responsible for making him blind.

But with love, care and medical treatment, Don Felipe quickly got better - he gained weight, got better movement in his limbs and even recovered some of his vision.

After spending about a month at the organization's rescue center in Mexico, Don Felipe was moved across the border to the organization's rescue center in California. Not long after this, a woman from Boston saw Don Felipe's video, and offered to adopt him.

Don Felipe the dog at the rescue center in California
Compassion Without Borders

"She just fell madly in love," Camblor said. They organized for Don Felipe to fly over to her, although he won't be leaving for another two weeks.

As Don Felipe waits to go to his forever home, he's enjoying every day at the rescue center in California.

"He likes to run around with other dogs," Camblor said. "He's a healthy, happy wonderful guy."

Don Felipe the dog at the rescue center in California
Compassion Without Borders

But back in Mexico, there are still thousands of street dogs who need help, and there are few resources to help them.

"There's virtually no programs that provide access to low-cost or free spay and neuter, unlike in the U.S.," Camblor explained. "There are also not very many animal shelters or adoption programs. In most parts of Mexico, animal control consists of animals being rounded off the streets and electrocuted."

To help Compassion Without Borders save as many street dogs as possible, you can make a donation.