Saving Mexico's Strays: One Photographer's Mission of Mercy

Stunned by the suffering of dogs and cats in the streets of Cancun, Tracey Buyce took action.

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woman holding dog to her chest
Tracey Buyce's vacation led to a vocation—saving Cancun, Mexico's stray dogs and cats. (Photo: The Saratogian)

When Tracey Buyce left for a vacation in Cancun, Mexico, she never dreamed that she’d embarked on a life-saving mission. But Buyce soon learned that the streets and beaches of this glamorous resort are overrun with stray dogs and cats. Buyce, who hails from Saratoga Springs, New York, is also a photographer. She told The Saratogian that many of the animals were starving and sick. “I want to tell their story,” she explained. “I want to help them.”

Buyce started by contacting CANDI International, a nonprofit that works to save the lives of stray animals in destination communities like Cancun by hosting spay/neuter and adoption clinics throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Then Boyce returned to Mexico to photograph the grateful animals at the CANDI-sponsored clinic in Cancun, and posted them on her website. Buyce hopes her photos will help spur both local and global involvement in the cause.

A donation of $20 is enough to spay or neuter one dog.

Although the photographer has contributed to local animal charities in Saratoga Springs and adopted two dogs and a cat from rescue groups, she says the need in Mexico and the relative indifference of some people to the plight of these animals overwhelmed her. “I was really affected by it,” she said.

According to CANDI, one female dog and her offspring can produce as many as 67,000 puppies in six years. One female cat and her kittens can produce 425,000 cats over a seven-year period.

During the five-day CANDI clinic, Buyce documented the sterilization of 852 animals, including both strays brought in from the street and later released and animals brought in by their owners.

At the next clinic in April, CANDI hopes to spay or neuter 2,000 animals. The cost of a single clinic is about $15,000. Between now and April, Tracey Buyce is focused on fundraising. She and a friend are organizing a silent auction and seeking local businesses to donate items.

If you have a business in the Saratoga Springs area and would like to make a donation to the auction, contact

To learn more about CANDI’s spay and neuter clinics, click here.

Click here to visit Tracey Buyce’s website and see photographs of the dogs and cats of Cancun.