Brownsville shelter dogs find new homes via Border Patrol

dfwnewsa | November 28, 2023 | 1 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Brownsville shelter dogs find new homes via Border Patrol

Three dogs at the Brownsville animal shelter have found new homes with U.S. Border Patrol agents, an unintended consequence of the REAL Mission job shadowing program with the Brownsville Independent School District.

The REAL Mission program for at-risk youth between 13-18 is the result of a memorandum of understanding between BISD and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department, the 484th state District Court and Cameron County Court-at-Law No. 5.


The program’s first cohort of 10 students along with six mentor agents spent a recent Saturday morning cleaning the kennels at the Brownsville Animal Regulation & Control Center at 416 FM 511 in Olmito.

A volunteer outing at the Brownsville Animal Regulation & Control Center with Border Patrol agents and at-risk youth resulted in the adoption of three dogs. (Courtesy: Brownsville Animal Regulation & Control Center)

The community service day was to help with the ongoing effort to care for the dogs and cats at the shelter and help get them ready for adoption.

Agent Joey Garza, a Rivera High School graduate who works out of the Border Patrol’s Fort Brown Station, initiated the REAL Mission program after transferring back home to Brownsville and after seeing the positive results of a similar program he was involved with in El Paso.

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Garza said the group spent about two hours getting the shelter and the dogs and cats there ready to meet the public for adoption. Even with the extra 10 students and six mentors there was plenty to get done.

“You’re talking about an extra 16 people and we were just busy busy busy. We were kind of taken aback by that,” he said.

But there was also time to interact with the shelter animals.

Garza ended up adopting an English bulldog he named Rex, while mentor agents Isidro Areola and Ricardo Benitez also adopted shelter dogs.

Garza said Rex’s personality changed from apprehensive to kind and loving after making the move.

“Now that he’s at home he’s just full of love, jumps on me with kisses, follows me everywhere. His personality just did a complete 180,” Garza said, adding that adopting a dog is not just adopting a dog but saving a life.

Dr. Antonio Caldwell, BARCC assistant director, said the shelter has been in operation since 2003 yet many people don’t know it is there off FM 511 in Olmito.

“The officers led by example and we were able to rescue three animals same day, which is phenomenal,” he said.

“You never know when one of these furry, lovable animals will touch your heart. We are constantly full. We’re always at capacity and we don’t want to make those decisions when it comes to the outcomes for our animals,” Caldwell said.

“We’re calling on our community to get involved. Come adopt. Come foster,” he said. “If adoption is too big of a step you can foster for a few days or a week or two and see if the animal is a good fit for you and your home.”

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