Making a Difference: Dr. Christi Camblor and Compassion Without Borders

March 2, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

Compassion Without Borders started with one woman helping one dog in Mexico and now encompasses several programs that have rescued thousands of dogs on both sides of the border.

Christi Camblor, DVM, started Compassion Without Borders (CWOB) over 15 years ago when she was between undergraduate and veterinary school. “It began after I traveled to Mexico and saw firsthand how dire the situation was,” Dr. Camblor says. “I became inspired to do all that I could to help.”

Her vision was a simple one: to provide a better and brighter future for animals in need on both sides of the United States—Mexico border.

From One to Thousands

Her mission started with a single dog. Dr. Camblor arranged for a starving and sick terrier named Chacha to be transported from Mexico to northern California to safety and a new home. She continued rescuing sick, injured, neglected, and starving dogs until she formally founded CWOB in 2001. The nonprofit has since arranged transport for more than 2000 dogs from the region.

But Dr. Camblor’s work extends well beyond the Mexican border.

One of the main goals of CWOB is direct rescue from low-resource areas where animals are at risk to higher-resource areas where there is a shortage of adoptable dogs. The group’s interstate Chihuahua program fulfills this goal exceedingly well.

Poverty levels are among the highest in the nation in the Central Valley of California, and euthanasia rates and overcrowding in shelters are extremely high there. The Chihuahua is by far one of the most overrepresented breeds in the region, yet there is a shortage of small dogs in the upper Midwest region of the country.

Every 6 weeks or so, CWOB transports more than 40 Chihuahuas from California to Minneapolis to find forever homes, with more than 1500 dogs transported to date. “We rescue animals and save their lives by transporting them to areas where there is a void of adoptable dogs and where they will be easily adopted out into loving homes,” Dr. Camblor says.

Each dog is sent in a crate in the cargo hold of a nonstop commercial flight, with the cost of each crate covered by donations. The transported dogs are usually adopted within days.

Collaboration Breeds Success

Dr. Camblor believes the success of CWOB is due to the true collaboration behind it. The organization “became a reality thanks to a whole network of partner agencies, fellow rescuers, a very dedicated board member named Dr. Cindy Karsten, and an amazing shelter in Minneapolis—the Animal Humane Society,” Dr. Camblor says.

Another instrumental collaborator is Dr. Camblor’s husband, photographer and graphic designer Moncho Camblor. “None of what I have accomplished through CWOB would have been possible without Moncho,” she says. “He helped to co-found the organization and has worked every bit as hard as I have on all the programs over the years—also as 100% volunteer labor.”

While the nonprofit is dedicated to rescue, Dr. Camblor also works hard on the prevention side of animal homelessness by offering access to animal wellness care and spay/neuter clinics. The team hosts week-long spay/neuter clinics in Mexico as well as programs to give locals the knowledge and tools they need to set up permanent veterinary clinics in their area.

CWOB offers several other programs created to save as many needy animals as possible. In fact, Dr. Camblor is excited to announce a new program that is set to begin in April. “This new program will dramatically improve and expand our ability to help animals both through direct rescue and by increasing our ability to offer free and affordable veterinary care to low-income families,” she says.

Stay tuned to find out what this new program is all about.