Meet Mac, a product of Laredo’s ACF

Mac is a cutie! Earlier this year, I lost two of my faithful dogs to old age and cancer and I thought, “That’s it, no more dogs.” Until… in October, Alex saw Mac at the Pan American Courts, escorted by the Laredo Animal Care Facility staff. Maclovio

I had always dealt with LAPS but not the city shelter so this was new ground. I knew that we wanted to first foster because we needed to see if the two dogs would be compatible. So far, so good. I knew as a foster that I would be responsible for food and any illness but I was not prepared for all of the city’s mixed messages.
The process for adoption should be straightforward, you agree to $137 adoption fee (although the city website says $60.00!); in exchange, the animal should be healthy, vaccinated, chipped and neutered . But here’s the deal, Mac had been at the shelter for over a month, longer than most dogs. He was destined to be put down pretty soon. He was skinny and had tick fever and was supposedly on medication. What is supposed to happen is that the LACF should be adopting out dogs with a city chip, not ill, neutered/spayed, and basic shots. Tick fever? Well, I figured he had to be at the end of treatment as I was verbally told and when the city said they would not be sending meds home with me, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to continue the last of the treatment, even if we opted not to keep him. They told me that the city is pending some equipment for the facility to be able to neuter and spay and that there would be a delay because the new veterinarian that was hired was about to go on maternity leave. I was like… yikes… but OK. I am a pretty responsible owner and have a fenced in yard. I crossed my fingers that Mac would not get out and make the problem of pet overpopulation even worse.
I took Mac to Critter Care veterinarian clinic on October 20th.  I told Dr. Leyendecker that I knew he had tick fever but it should be a matter of continuing a course that should be close to the end. She reviewed the city’s documentation, raised her eyebrow, and said “this information says they have been giving him 1 pill per day when the dosage for his weight should be 5 pills per day.”  At every point, she gave me options to continue treatment or to return him. I said I’d take on starting treatment from scratch and treating him so there was that unexpected cost of 105 pills instead of just the last few. Dr. Leyendecker reviewed the paperwork and noticed there wasn’t information for heart worm prevention. I told her I assumed he would have been on a preventative but again, she gave me the option of continuing with having to pay for testing for heartworm and to give him heartworm preventative or to return him. I opted to bite the bullet and test & treat him. She then checked to make sure he had been chipped and had at least his rabies shot. He had. When it came time to ask about neutering, I told her that I was told the city wasn’t quite ready but that I was fostering until then. She looked at me and said, “You do know that probably won’t be until after January.” I told her that I was supposed to return to pay the $137 for adoption within a month and she said, “that’s not possible. We can have him neutered next week but it will cost you and you are still fostering.” She explained that the city formerly provided vouchers to pet owners adopting animals. I told her I could call LACF and ask if they would. I called from the vet’s office and spoke with Clarissa Rangel, the new director. She has always been professional and direct in her other city posts and she was again. She outright said, “We no longer provide vouchers, you will have to wait or you can opt to pay on your own.” I said I wouldn’t be able to comply with the adoption contract then which states:
LACF contract for neutering
I passed the phone to Dr. Leyendecker at the vet’s office. What surprised me was that as Dr. Leyendecker was asking her for a voucher to go ahead and neuter Mac that week, the doctor said something like, “I just want to remind you that by law, you cannot be adopting out animals without spaying or neutering and if you do, you are in violation. The city has got to stop handing out dogs without a plan.” The answer was “No.” So here we were between a financially-draining rock and a more-cost hard place and a sweet dog who would potentially make more puppies while we wait. The city was not going to budge on the voucher and they were not going to take care of their end of the bargain just yet. This was my initial visit receipt for Mac (minus the $45 for Bravecto that I opted for):
Critter Care receipt
Frankly, I’m am not in a position to be shelling out even MORE costs for something the city was supposed to do. I was already in the $ hole for heartworm and tick fever treatments. I kept thinking… why didn’t we go look at the no-kill shelters first!!  My heart couldn’t just return Mac, knowing his fate was pretty much sealed because he is a big dog and not a puppy. The city of Laredo’s website reads:
All pets are chipped, vaccinated against rabies, and spayed or neutered by the veterinarian to be ready for adoption: Fee $60.
I’m not unreasonable. I understand that there is a new director for the facility, a new veterinarian, new equipment coming in, new building being completed, BUT… then I get a call on Thursday, November 30th from the city’s LACF. The woman on the other end was fairly dry and wanted my proof that the dog had been neutered. I said “Huh?” LACF themselves had told me there would be a wait for equipment and no voucher would be provided to have a local vet do the procedure. I explained the visits and the back and forths and how they were giving me mixed messages. She ultimately said, “you can take your dog to a veterinarian and have the neutering done for $50 which will be deducted from the $137 you owe us.” which I know was not the price because of the previous visit with Critter Care. After that I just listened and finally hung up.
I called the Critter Care staff just to make sure I had my facts correct and they stated the cost for neutering a dog is by size and it starts at $130. Imagine Mac, initially 53 lbs and now fattened up a little bit after his bout with tick fever… $130 is the STARTING price.
So which is it Laredo’s Animal Care Facility??? Will you give me a voucher to  neuter Mac? Will you neuter him with your fancy new equipment? Will you do it now or make me wait another month? Or do you expect me to pay the $237 vet bill, $130+ neutering bill, AND $137 adoption fee where your end of the bargain was not met??
As of this writing, there is a petition still circulating to demand changes at LACF and that is available here. Both pet advocates and the LACF will be at the city council meeting scheduled for Monday, December 4th – it will be a pretty big crowd. By the looks of it, several representatives met for an initial meeting to iron out a few things:
Of course, I am still left with questions for neutering my “STILL FOSTER” Mac…
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Happy New Year – 2016!

Que Fregados New Year 2016.jpg

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Oh yes, I love tamales. I love all kinds of tamales. There is no better time to enjoy them than during the Fiestas Decembrinas (December holidays). This is a really quick post with a really quick video about our families that get together to catch up on each others’ lives over the building of a mountain of tamales. You can’t just eat one tamal, even when you try.Tamal Isaac
Even my baby nephew got in on the action except… his was more of a sculpture session. Because we are increasingly mobile and my family is spread out, we gather once a year and tamales are usually part of the celebration. This Christmas Eve 2015, we made tamales of chicken in red chile sauce and poblano pepper strips (rajas) with cheese. We also made Chopes which are sweet small tamales using the same masa (corn meal mix) but with fruit and nuts added. They are delicious! I should have thought ahead and videotaped a step-by-step but… too late; we were caught up in our creations. This was us during the process. Merry Christmas everyone (although I also pulled out my aluminum pole for Festivus, the delicate family balance…. hmmm…)!!

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The December Tamal challenge… how many can you name?

Some of us with Latin American roots already started the annual season of tamales by having more than one tamal on Thanksgiving or made turkey tamales from leftovers… which got me thinking… Every year my Mexican belly gobbles up tamales de frijol (of beans), pollo en salsa verde (chicken in green sauce), puerco (pork), res (beef), chopes (sweet coconut & pineapple ones that my mom loved as a child and still makes for us), rajas de chile (poblano pepper slices), etc., etc. I’ve had them Northern Mexican style, Oaxacan Mexican style, Colombian style, Peruvian and so on.

So what if we decided to actually dedicate the whole month to trying out a new tamal flavor each day? As long as we don’t have to shell out the Williams-Sonoma price ($54 for 3 dozen), I would sooooo do it. Except, it is not on my paleo plan :P.

december tamal challenge

Oh, and by the way, tamal is one single corn dough like tube or square filled with yummy anything and wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf or other natural wrap depending on the region. Tamales is the plural. Tamale is a word that seems to only exist in the U.S. which is gaining acceptance but is still not the singular of tamales.

So how many different styles and fillings of tamales can you name?

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Laredo Little Theatre, Chairs and Flamenco

11902444_1114850768545071_4654123207355029908_n(NOTE: Crossposting will occur with until site is fully transitioned.  Thank you for your patience.)

Saturday, August 22nd was a night of passion and tradition at the Laredo Little Theatre.  Illeana Gomez, a native Laredoan, was featured in an annual Flamenco show held at the Laredo Little Theatre.  I was curious when my friend invited me go because I was unfamiliar with the tremendous talent.  I had heard the name as part of a small group of recognized Flamenco dancers originating from our border community.  The opening piece, though, was a treat by local lovers of Flamenco – the Altagracia Azios Garcia Castanet Ensemble, composed of local women who play them for the love of musical art that castanets produce.

All I can say is that it was an extraordinary show – every step was punctuated by another “Bravo!”  Dance is not my forte but this show was awesome! A big congratulations to the talented Kayla Lyall, Manuel Gutierrez, Alejandro Pais Iriart, Carlos Menchaca, Jose Cortes and Laredo’s own Illeana Gomez.


 That awesomeness was marred only by one little annoyance: the squeaky seats.

The Laredo Little Theater literally is a small-sized theater so no seat is a bad seat to watch whatever magic may be on stage.  Personally, I found the seats comfortable and the squeakiness was not too distracting but as part of the renovation, new seats will be installed.  What our eyes usually miss, though, is the wear and tear of the years of service the seats have provided.  The fun surprise were the gobs of gum accumulated under seats, on the carpet and even walls after seeing decades of theatre goers – gross but a fact of public seating.  The interior renovations will be a welcomed brightening to one of the few non-profits bringing quality plays and performances to Laredo audiences.  Sponsors ($250 Seat Patron) are still being sought for the new seats and an explanation of what will happen to the ones removed follow in the video:

Or you can connect with the Laredo Little Theater at, 956-723-1342,, or

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This will some day be my past life: Regressive Hypnosis in Laredo

The newest post can be viewed at or  If you are subscribed here, please take the time to subscribe on the new site (note: is still under heavy construction)

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Laredo Little Theater’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.: Be Their Guest

As you now, we have been moving things around.  The new site is now self-hosted and can be found at and the last post is:


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Decriminalizing Marijuana in Texas: a ‘Divine’ Cause?

While the legalization of marijuana campaign continues to gain steam as multiple states, including Colorado and Washington (having moved past the “medical” portion of the argument and included “recreational use” as part of their revamped laws), many in Texas believed that the Lone Star State would not be considering any form of legalization soon. Texas remains one of the true bastions of far-right traditionalism and has furthered the move to the outer limit of right conservatism under Tea Party rule. Therefore, it was a bit of a shock when House Bill 2165, an act that would completely legalize adult use of marijuana, was proposed and actually gained some traction.

The bill was not the only marijuana decriminalization proposed this legislative session (see House Bill 507), but it was the only one that touted full toleration of “weed” for adults.

The statute was the creation of David Simpson, a Christian conservative Republican out of Longview, Texas, with strong ties to the Tea Party. During an interview with the Texas Observer in May 2015, Simpson rationalized, “Right now, you can’t legally use the plant responsibly to help people with PTSD, epilepsy, cancer or pain.” He added, “We need to change that.”

As is the case with the vast majority of conservative Christian politicians and their supporters, the separation of church and state tends to be a mere suggestion and Simpson’s reasoning for the legislation had a religious foundation. During the same interview, Simpson was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana, he made a mistake government needs to fix.”

As bizarre as that may sound to some non-Christian conservative right-wingers, one thing is for sure: according to Simpson, one can now add divinity as a legitimate argument for the decriminalization of marijuana. The masterful blending of church and state, Texas style.

Amen, anyone?

And while the initial justifications are far more accepted and utilized in the fight for marijuana decriminalization, it is likely “pot” pundits will accept any reason they can if it means it will help the cause. Bill 2165 made it out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee by a 5-2 vote but met its end in the House Calendars Committee: a graveyard for bills that lawmakers do not wish to tackle publicly. It’s a failsafe area used by the government to avoid “hot topic” issues deemed not ready for public debate.   Buried alongside 2165 was HB 507 (Sponsor: El Paso Democrat Joe Moody), which would have made possession of less than 1 once of cannabis a civil offense.

Regardless of the outcome of both pieces of legislation, the fact that two Texas bills harvested support to decriminalize marijuana suggests that lawmakers will have to debate this issue in the near future.

What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana in Texas?

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Laredo Animal Protective Society: Keeping Positive despite Daily Struggles

LAPS 3Despite the “dog days” of summer heat, the Laredo Animal Protective Society (LAPS) pressed forward with the “Pooches on the Patio” pet adoption drive. The event was held at the parking lot of the Border Foundry Restaurant and Bar located at 7718 McPherson Road. Initially, LAPS arrived to the location with over 30 dogs, ranging from little puppies to the more seasoned of canines, looking for a “forever home.”

Unfortunately, the doggie mobile unit used to transport the pooches had technical difficulties; the generator that powers the air conditioning unit used to keep the dogs cool would not ignite. This led to most of the dogs being returned to the shelter prematurely and only seven bow-wows were left at the site.

As Laredo’s only “no-kill” shelter, LAPS continuously puts on adoption drives in an effort to keep their ever-growing animal population in check. Being a “no-kill” establishment does have its challenges as no matter how noble a cause, everything still depends on money to survive.

LAPS 1Prior to 2012, the non-profit did not have to worry much about finances as the City of Laredo would cover the monthly expenses, at a cost: many dogs and cats were euthanized on a monthly basis. Ultimately, disagreements between city leaders and shelter management led to a divorce. Since the split, LAPS has marched on leaving the euthanizing behind and focusing on finding families for all of the shelter residents.

Monica Mondragon is the newest Executive Director of the shelter; she is a few days shy of her third month at the helm of the day-to-day operations. Mondragon was not part of LAPS in 2012, but appreciates that the shelter is a “no kill” foundation.   Mondragon added that she was “very fortunate to have come in at the right time” as she could not have been involved with LAPS knowing that “some of [the animals] were going to be put down just to make space.”

Mondragon stated that so far, her tenure as director has been “exciting” and “rewarding” but also reported that it is not “easy” as the shelter consistently runs short on funds and “struggles to make it every month.” She informed that the monthly budget ranges from $11,000 – $13,000 and with expenses including food, medicine, spay, neutering, vaccinating, paying employees, water, and electricity. Mondragon added that overhead tends to spike during the summer due to a higher number of animals arriving to the shelter.

LAPS 2Because of the constantly strained budget, LAPS depends heavily on volunteers which is something that the non-profit never has to worry about.

“We’re very blessed, as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are a huge help,” Mondragon said. She added that LAPS also gets a lot of support from FFA students and the Junior Honor Society, just to name a few.

Even though the struggle of making ends meet is real, Mondragon keeps a positive attitude: “We do struggle but it is definitively worthwhile as anything worth doing is worth struggling for.” Mondragon added, “We’re very grateful to everyone who adopts and helps us.”

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Trump Sets Out Immigration Policy… Sort Of

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump continues to dominate the media airways and national Republican polls in key battleground states. The unrelenting billionaire has actually shown some restraint in the past few days, toning down the insults towards his fellow republican rivals and presenting a more controlled persona during interviews.

Trump was recently interviewed by CNN’s Dana Bash. One of the key things that Bash discussed with top Republican candidate was immigration. The CNN reporter pressured Trump regarding immigration, requesting for specific policies the real-estate tycoon would implement regarding the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Trump reiterated that there are a lot of “bad dudes” illegally in the United States so he would ensure their banishment from this country. He pledged that these criminals would not return to the United States but did not present how he would accomplish this.

In reference to the law abiding undocumented immigrants, the Republican frontrunner told Bash that he would proceed to deport all persons illegally in the U.S. but would allow them to apply for legal re-entry into the country via an “expedited process.” Trump clarified that an actual path to citizenship was not part of his plan, but that these “good ones” (referring to the non-criminal immigrant) would be allowed to live in the U.S. legally.

Bash also questioned the mogul about the undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. as children but have been educated and assimilated to American culture, identifying more as Americans than from their countries of origin. Most of these individuals are positive members of their communities and are seeking to obtain citizenship in order to further their financial and educational goals in a legal fashion.

Trump appeared perplexed and stated that this scenario presented a “tough situation” but remained firm that all undocumented immigrants needed to be deported and then allowed to apply for legal entry under his equivocal “expedited process.”

Although this was a very broad account of the policies he would implement if elected president, at the very least Trump provided a framework as to what he intends to do with all undocumented persons residing in the country.

The question: Do you agree with Donald Trump’s potential policies? Why or why not?

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