The embattled southern border is entering its third year of a historic migrant crisis that has smashed records and seen hundreds of thousands of migrants cross into the U.S. each month — many of them are bringing their dogs, who need to be left behind.
Fox News has witnessed numerous migrants bringing animals with them as they make the arduous trek to the southern border, often across multiple different countries.
But once they arrive, their pups and other pets are unlikely to be allowed into the U.S., given that animals are not allowed into federal processing centers. So migrants who are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are often forced to leave their furry friends behind.
It’s unclear how many animals have been left behind since the border crisis began, but reporters, law enforcement and activists often witness lost dogs wandering around looking for food at or near major border crossings. Some of them will assist with the reuniting or rehousing of the lost pets.
Customs and Border Protection did not respond to a request for comment from Fox, but told BuzzFeed News last year that if an owner does not transfer possession to friends or family, the agency ‘works with local officials from animal health services, such as a local humane shelter, to see if there can be placement for the animal while its owner remains in custody.’
Multiple groups that care for animals have also launched missions to help, whether it be working with local law enforcement to directly reunite dogs with their migrant owners after release into the U.S., or to help rehouse dogs more broadly that they find fending for themselves in the harsh conditions faced at the southern border.
One of those groups, Big Dog Ranch Rescue, launched a mission late last year to rescue dogs abandoned at the border. Founder and CEO Lauree Simmons told Fox News Digital that they rescued more than 100 dogs, and have since rehoused all but four of those dogs — one who is recovering from an injury and three mothers who are caring for new puppies.
Simmons said she was surprised at how many dogs she saw down there, but also emphasized the goodness of the local authorities — as well as Americans across the country who have volunteered to rehouse the abandoned pups.
‘I was surprised at the fact that these dogs were just abandoned down there. But what I was pleasantly surprised by is how caring some of the National Guard were,’ she said. ‘We left over 200 bags of dog food because these National Guardsmen are trying to keep these dogs fed and alive. And their compassion for the animals was fantastic. Many of them had even gotten some of their dogs adopted.’
Simmons said they encountered all kinds of dogs at the border, including the dogs that gave birth just after getting to the ranch — and would have struggled to survive in the rough conditions at the border.
‘So we really got them just in time because these puppies would have never survived down there on the Rio Grande,’ she said.
Simmons says the group will again go back to the border next month, and fill up a bus with abandoned dogs to bring back, vaccinate, and hopefully re-house.
The abandoned dogs are one, often overlooked, part of an ongoing multi-faceted migrant crisis that shows no sign of slowing down. President Biden recently visited the southern border amid growing political pressure on his administration over the crisis.
He also announced a number of border measures, including an expanded parole pathway and broader Title 42 expulsions. But he also called on Congress to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill, and said the crisis could not be fixed until Congress acts.
‘That work will not be done unless and until Congress enacts and funds a more comprehensive immigration plan that I proposed on day one,’ he said.
Simmons was dismissive of the visit, saying that Biden himself saw a sanitized version of what is going on on the ground.
‘He didn’t go anywhere near where the people are really coming in and coming across. I saw the real thing when we were down there and it’s sad. And it’s sad for these dogs and some of these migrants don’t understand why they have to leave their animals behind,’ she said.
‘I don’t think they intentionally brought them to know they were going to leave them behind. But animals are the ones that end up suffering.’
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.