Luna was just one of many dogs facing an uncertain fate in the tourist outskirt town of Bonfil, Mexico. The difference was, she was lucky enough to be spotted by Tracey Buyce, who was on a volunteer assignment for CANDi (Cats & Dogs International), as their official photographer in 2012. CANDi is a nonprofit organization in both the US and Canada whose mission is to save the lives of stray cats and dogs in Mexico and the Caribbean through spay, neuter, adoption and educational programs, supported and funded by the tourism industry, travelers and pet lovers.
The very first morning of the 6 day clinic in Mexico, Tracey set out to document the hundreds, if not thousands of street dogs in the area. It was here, in a working class neighborhood in Bonfil, that Tracey spotted the sweet and gentle dog she would later name Luna. Luna was in someone’s backyard, emaciated, neglected and clearly in desperate need of medical attention. She tugged at Tracey’s heart who knew that she and CANDi International had to rescue her. It was with sheer determination that Tracey was able to get the owner to reluctantly relinquish the dog, so she could get her treated.
Back at the clinic, a volunteer vet diagnosed Luna with starvation and cancer and told Tracey Luna would have been dead within one week if she hadn’t brought her in. Luna underwent treatment and chemotherapy in Mexico with local humane partners, while Tracey returned back home to America.
Back in Saratoga Springs, Tracey didn't give up on Luna and continued to fight for her. Every hour Tracey was away from Luna she spent fundraising for her treatment and spreading the word about Luna’s cause and CANDi International through social media. She also reached out to CANDi humane partner, Hector Navarro in Mexico to foster Luna during her treatment. With Hector and his wife Carla’s unconditional love, compassion and nurturing, Luna returned to full health quickly, becoming completely unrecognizable from the skeletal dog she was only months before. Luckily, her cancer was treatable, and Luna’s chemotherapy had worked its magic.
Tracey was soon able to find a dream home for Luna too, right in her own neighborhood with friend and mom of three, Jenny Witte through Facebook. She was contacted almost immediately by Jenny, founder of Mamatoga, a parenting website, wanting to adopt her! On March 18, Hector flew Luna back to Saratoga Springs, NY to reunite Tracey and her new family in a joyful homecoming which was covered by the local news.
With Tracey’s help, and that of countless volunteers all who donated their time and expertise to help save a life, CANDi International was able to continue fulfilling its mission. CANDi’s aim is to bring together the power of the tourism industry with compassionate travelers and locals to help animals through free spay/neuter, medical care, and direct animal rescue in cases of extreme need. CANDi’s efforts to date have been focused in the communities surrounding Cancun Mexico, where they have provided nine free spay/neuter clinics, which have sterilized nearly 10,000 animals, both owned and stray.