Originally from Argentina, the family eventually moved to Mexico City, where Lorna lived for 25 years before moving to the U.S. It was during her time there that her own odyssey into animal advocacy began to crystalize. At the age of 20, she started assisting the Mexican Humane Society. When she wasn’t hitting the streets to rescue stray pets, she was translating articles into English for the organization’s magazine. When she left the country many years ago, she distinctly remembers vowing on the plane as it taxied away that, one day, she’d be back to help the animals there — especially those put down by electrocution.
Yes, electrocution. It wasn’t until 2015 that strays in Mexico were finally euthanized in a more humane fashion using drugs, and Lorna helped champion the cause. In 2014, the same year she moved to Tucson and started her Facebook page Angelitos Callejeros or Street Angels, Lorna reached out to animal activist Antemio Maya Pindter, the founder of Pro-Perro AC. A well-known rescue and source of protection for street dogs in Mexico City, she spoke with him about her concerns. As it happened, Pindter was already working on legislation to change how euthanasia was approached. The following year, with their support, the law adopting the new method went into effect.
Angelitos Callejeros focuses on rescuing dogs throughout Mexico and Latin America. It is a place where anyone within the group can post dogs who are in need of homes and/or medical treatment. Consisting of some 4,000 rescuers, they’re trying desperately to make a dent in the estimated 18 million strays in the country — a staggering number. So far, it’s helped. In fact, it was successful enough to convince Lorna to create an offshoot page she gradually developed for Monterrey in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It’s called Monterrey Rescata, and it has nearly 24,000 group members to date.
As Lorna explains it, Monterrey is home to about 500,000 stray dogs, with around 10 dog pounds killing approximately 300 canines a month or more. She got started there with a local woman named Fatima Avnu with the goal of saving the animals before they could be euthanized. Pindter, her Mexico City connection, was again able to help and is credited with assisting four to five different pounds in becoming no-kill facilities. There are other changes afoot in Mexico as well. One is the Center for Animal Wellbeing, which is having some impact on adoption and care. With trucks to pick up strays, surrendered pets, and injured animals, they also transport them to adopters andprovide free spay and neuter. While more funding and public education are needed, several municipalities have these centers now.
Another thing that’s happening is a shift in attitude among the public on the ethical treatment of animals. People are pressuring officials for changes, and they’re starting to come through. Happy to see the direction Mexico is headed in, Lorna sees the younger generation, in particular, as getting more involved, saying they truly love their dogs. She shared the story of a young woman of about 20, accompanied by two toddlers, who had stopped to sit on the sidewalk next to a dog struck by a car. A busy street with traffic whizzing by, she would not leave until animal rescue arrived, even with her young children waiting. To Lorna, these are the heroes in Mexico, everyday people trying to make a difference. But there’s still a longways to go.
“To people outside of Mexico, especially, perhaps, in America, people think it’s bad here with dogs, but they don’t know the nightmare it is for them in Mexico,” Lorna stated. “They don’t know what dogs go through there. The extreme lengths of their suffering or the intense levels of it. You see dogs out there trying to survive on just two legs. The need is tremendous.”
For more information about the two groups, visit her Facebook pages. If you’d like to help, there’s a $10-a-month club called Lorna’s Angels on WhatsApp to contribute through ($10 goes a long way there). You can also contact her directly with any amount if apps aren’t your thing. Contributions are used for costs including transportation of animals, veterinary expenses, and pet food.