Mission Of Mercy

Rebecca Sonniksen

Thanks to High Prairie resident, Elke Neubauer, along with Jen Schwab and Sherry Ervin, the people of Troncones, and Pantla, Mexico, sleep better now at night. 

Flying in late October to Ixtapa at their own expense, this trio of volunteers brought food, animal carriers, kennels, medication, collars and leashes. They teamed up with local veterinarians from Zihua and Mexico City, and with the help of local people, set up spay/neuter clinics in the two Mexican villages. The clinics were made possible by Gorge Kitten Project, which was organized five years ago by Jen Schwab to help people care for their animals where the cost of care is prohibitive. 

“It’s not that they don’t care about their animals,” Elke explains, “It’s that they have no resources or medication. The cost to spay is over what they will make in half a month and they need help with the cost of food.”

Beginning with Troncones, where the results of past clinics can be seen by the lack of stray animals, local people helped to set up the open air clinic. Ordinary folding tables raised up by bricks served as surgery tables. There was a refrigerator to keep the medications cool, and lighting was improvised for surgery. 

Elke assisted by preparing the animals for surgery, giving vaccinations, clearing ears, combing out knots, and treating for fleas and pulling ticks. She and Sherry also helped by donating a supply of food for the dogs. 

The second clinic of the trip was held for the first time in Pantla, where villagers were waiting in line patiently. With the promise to turn no animal away, this team of volunteers spayed/neutered in both villages a total of 130 dogs and cats.

“I plan to be there next year, and I need to learn Spanish,” says Elke. “I saw how people watched us, how we treated their animals. A man watched me kneeling next to a mama with a broken foot (she really touched my heart.) He said – You really love animals.”

“Yes I do. It’s a good feeling to know we helped not only the animals, but the people, too. They care about their dogs and cats.”

In addition to helping with the recovery of the animals in the clinics, local residents helped rescue dogs off the streets including three female dogs with a total of 18 puppies. 

According to Jen, who stayed longer in the area to help with the rescues, “They were in very bad conditions and starving. One of the dogs had her ears cut off. Thanks to the local people, a healthy dose of vaccine and lots of hugs and kisses, she looks a million times better now.”

“We’ll bring the puppies back here in a couple months for adoption and foster care.”

Elke and Sherry also assist in our local spay/neuter clinic in the Lyle Activity Center for homeless cats and kittens, Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue. 

If you’d like to help either by donating money for medication and food, or by providing a temporary or permanent home to a Mexican puppy, contact the Gorge Kitten Project at, the gorgekittenproject@gmail.com. You can also contact Elke at elkeneu@gmx.com.


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