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Only Here Podcast: Rescuing Dogs From The Streets Of Mexico And Finding Them Homes in San Diego

Dana Dallabetta (right) runs Tragic to Magic dog rescue and Elizabeth Valenzuela runs Red Barn Rescue.
Kinsee Morlan
Dana Dallabetta (right) runs Tragic to Magic dog rescue and Elizabeth Valenzuela runs Red Barn Rescue.

When Dana Dallabetta moved from New York City to Rosarito, Mexico, she had visions of retiring in the beach town and spending her days relaxing on the sand.

But one day while walking along the beach, she saw a stray dog. She felt sorry for the animal, so she took him home and named him Ricky Gervais, after the English comedian. Ricky the dog became one of her best buds.

It wasn't long before she saw another stray dog, and took it home too. Then another, and another and another.


The next thing Dallabetta knew, she was joining the ranks of hardcore animal rescuers in Tijuana and Rosarito who have dedicated their lives to saving animals by getting them off the streets, crossing them through the border and finding them new homes mostly in San Diego.

Dallabetta's life now is the opposite of relaxing. Any thoughts of long, lazy days on the sand are gone. The small home near the beach she shares with her sister is now a makeshift dog shelter. Chaos, poop, pee, fur, barking, whimpering and vet trips now consume most of her days.

In the first in a two-part series, we spend a day rescuing dogs with Dallabetta, who runs the nonprofit Tragic to Magic.

Dog Crossing Part 1: We spend a day with a hardcore dog rescuer in Rosarito. Only here will you find a community of animal lovers who’ve dedicated their lives to saving dogs in Rosarito and Tijuana by finding them homes in San Diego. This is the first in a two-part series.

In the second episode in the two-part series, we meet more women who run do-it-yourself dog rescues in Baja.

Dog Crossing Part 2: In this episode, we meet Elizabeth Valenzuela who runs another DIY Baja dog rescue operation called Red Barn Rescue, plus other women who've dedicated their lives to saving animals living on the streets of Mexico. We also stop by an adoption event in San Diego where Baja Animal Sanctuary finds new homes for its rescued dogs. In the last episode, KPBS’ Kinsee Morlan and Emily Jankowski introduced you to Dana Dallabetta, an animal rescuer who saves street dogs in Rosarito and finds them new homes across the border in San Diego. If you haven’t heard that episode, you should stop and go back to give it a listen. This is part two and it picks up right where the last episode left off. Ask us questions or give us feedback by emailing us at