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December 21, 2004 > Compassion Without Borders

Compassion Without Borders

by Nancy Lyon

I often spend a few quiet moments getting away from the ringing of phones at Grau Pond in Niles. While my husband hikes, I spend time reading in our car above the scenic little lake that is filled with a multitude of waterfowl. Too often the peace is interrupted by groups of teenage hoodlums and uncontrolled children who seem to take delight in tormenting the birds and other helpless animals. It can soon give you a pretty grim view on our lack of humanity to other creatures who share this world.

Yet when faced with the darker side of human nature, it is important to remember there are many people who exemplify the decency and compassion of which human beings are capable. While delivering some donation items, OHS Companion Animal Rescue Director Judy Canright recently met such an amazing group of people at a sanctuary called the Animal Place in Vacaville.

Located in the rolling hills of Solano County, the Animal Place is a Humane Education Center and Sanctuary that has for over 15 years rescued abused and neglected farmed animals and dogs. It was co-founded by Kim Sturla, a central figure in the animal rights movement for 30 years with a strong focus on humane education. Her partner is Dr. Nic Buyukmihci who served as a faculty member at UC Davis for more than 20 years where he pioneered the effort to integrate humane ethics and the philosophy of animal rights into veterinary medicine.

Christi Payne, a veterinary technician and UC Davis veterinary student, has been a part of the Animal Place team for many years. She and Juan Ramon Camblor, a dedicated animal advocate and graphic designer, live on the sanctuary and are both part time caregivers. Together they founded Compassion Without Borders (CWOB). The main focus of their organization is to alleviate the suffering of unwanted companion animals in Mexico and other low resource regions through international rescue efforts and extensive spay/neuter campaigns.

The bi-lingual couple also coordinates Animal Place's Mexico City Dog Rescue Program and work to reduce the number of unwanted animals in developing countries such as Mexico through international rescue efforts and by establishing free, locally run spay/neuter programs. The areas they are serving are desperately poor and the poverty they are working around is difficult for the average citizen of the United States to imagine.

Compassion Without Borders is dedicated to alleviating and preventing animal suffering wherever it is found. In addition, they teach children in these areas about humane education and reach out to the communities wherever they work with donations of food, clothing, blankets and school supplies. They recognize that much of the suffering seen in the companion animals is a direct by-product of the human poverty and lack of resources in these communities.

CWOB has been working since 2003 with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) to put on week-long "Spay Camps" in different regions of Mexico. The goal of the camps is not only to provide a high volume of free spay and neuter in low resource areas where this type of service is nonexistent, but also to train local veterinarians and advocacy groups how to implement ongoing, permanent spay/neuter solutions in these areas.

They also work to broaden their scope and approach to include bringing assistance to the human individuals in the areas they serve. In Juarez, they brought food, clothing and shoes for the community and worked hard to instil in them a sense of pride in caring for their animals. They believe in the importance of humane education. In every community they serve they distribute coloring/activity books to the children that teach them valuable lessons about how animals feel, what they need, how they should be treated, etc. They also bring educational materials and coloring books and toys for the children. The Animal Place funds CWOB's educational efforts and the publication of educational booklets.

In comparison to the unthinking acts of animal cruelty seen too often in our affluent communities, these are the people who give us hope in an increasingly violent and needy world. On the Animal Place website is an inspiring quote by Helen Keller that offers us a solution and a path:

"Although the world is very full of suffering. It is also full of the overcoming of it."

Happy New Year! Live consciously and responsibly, work hard to make compassion and respect for ALL living creatures a reality.

You can learn more about the Animal Place and Compassion Without Borders by calling (707) 449-4814, or you can send an email to, or fax to (707) 449-8775.

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