North Bay Veterinarian Saves Thousands Of Shelter Dogs By Flying Them to New Homes

"Location, location, location."

It's an age-old maxim in the world of real estate: where a property is can mean everything in terms of value.

That turns out to be the case in the world of dog rescue, as well. At least, that's what Christi Camblor has discovered.

"Where a dog is can dictate it's fate," Camblor said.

With that in mind, Camblor has become an expert in saving dogs simply by changing their zip codes. Over the past three years Camblor's non-profit, Compassion Without Borders, has rescued more than 1,500 chihuahuas from California's Central Valley by flying them half-way across the country.

"A tan Chihuahua in Fresno doesn't have much of a chance, but a tan Chihuahua in Minnesota gets adopted right away," Camblor, a Santa Rosa veterinarian said.

It's all about supply and demand, really.

Chihuahuas are a very popular breed in the Central Valley and shelters there are filled to overflowing with the breed. "Way too many Chihuahuas," Camblor lamented. The chance of finding a new home for a Chihuahua or Chihuahua mix there is slim.

But through one of her board members, Camblor learned that there was a dearth of the breed in the upper Midwest. "She knew firsthand there was a shortage of small dogs," Camblor said. Animals that CWOB sends to a shelter in Minneapolis are usually adopted withing days of arrival.

It's a model that Camblor developed years ago while volunteering at an animal shelter in Mexico City. Camblor said she was saddened by the thousands of dogs there with little chance of adoption locally.

"That's your choice to be overwhelmed or do the one thing you can do. At that place the one thing I could do was to rescue animals out of there," Camblor said.

She arranged for one of the dogs to be transported to northern California. "It all started with a single dog," Camblor said. It was the beginning of CWOB. Camblor has maintained her ties to shelters in Mexico and has since arranged for the adoption of close to 2,000 dogs from there.

The Chihuahua airlift has proven to be just as successful.

Every six weeks or so, Camblor travels with members of her team to shelters in Fresno to find dogs in need of a family. They regularly come up with between 40 and 50 dogs.

The dogs are sent in crates in cargo holds of non-stop, commercial flights from the Bay Area or Sacramento to the Midwest. The costs are covered by donations made to CWOB.

Camblor hopes that in the future the can figure out a way to send more Chihuahua's from the Central Valley but perhaps find other destinations and other breeds that would mean more lives saved.

"I think a lot about the ones I left behind," Camblor said. "Instead of being paralyzed it makes me work harder so that I’m not having to leave animals behind."

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