OTTAWA -- Beyond the shores of Mexican beaches are communities filled with stray dogs struggling to survive.

“The first initial litter that I found was when was walking my own dogs; and they were in a pile of garbage just covered in fleas and ticks,” says Ottawa’s Andrea Renaud.

Renaud has been living in Tulum, Mexico with her fiancée for the last several months. She says the coverage of parasites were so bad she had once mistaken them for patches of dark fur.

“I actually thought one of them had spots – like polka dots,” says Renaud.

Faced with the heartbreak of seeing so many young puppies battling diseases while roaming the streets, the Canadian couple took it upon themselves to start working with veterinarians and rescue organizations in the area. Together they are paying to get the dogs the necessary vaccinations and documents so they can be adopted abroad.

Stray puppies being rescued

They accept donations to help with the cost, but Renaud says they are more focused on getting them healthy and finding them homes.

However; the pandemic is coming with unintended consequences from government action meant to keep transmission of COVID-19 low. With flights to and from Mexico getting canceled for the time being, the Canadians who volunteered to bring them back won’t be able to fulfill the duty.

“My boyfriend and I have been looking for a new puppy to join our family for about a year and a half now,” says hopeful adopter Laura Sweet.

Sweet currently has a dog but says finding another one to fit with their family has been tough.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and Ottawa Dog Rescue both confirm a surge in applications to adopt a dog during the pandemic with very few still available.

While there are pros and cons to international adoption, it is credited for giving animals homes which would otherwise starve or be euthanized.

Veterinarian Dr. Ian Sandler says the global effort to rescue animals helps to satisfy a Canadian family’s wants and needs.

“It’s advantageous for pet owners that may not be able to find a dog immediately during the pandemic,” says Sandler.

The humane rescue efforts, though, are facing new challenges.

Renaud launched “The Tejido” project on Instagram and hopes flying will resume in May.

The puppies can travel as young as 8 months with the proper escort and documentation. Yet, with a growing list of Canadians wanting to offer love, the hope is to get them to their families before they miss out on chance to watch them grow.

Stray puppy rescued

Renaud says the families understand why uniting with their pets has to be delayed but feels sad for the animals and the homes waiting to receive them. A litter of three pups were expecting to fly out this month and another of eight may be ready for adoption soon.

If you’d like to learn more, you’re encouraged to message The Tejido project on Instagram.