Canimx: Animal Rescue and Healthcare Provider for Animals in Mexico and Beyond
By Helen Anne Travis
Joerg Dobisch has been rescuing dogs since he was a kid. When he moved to La Paz, Mexico, his brother warned him that there would be tons of stray dogs on the streets.
“He told me, you’re not going to survive there,” says Dobisch.
Sure enough, within 24 hours of arriving in Mexico, he had rescued his first dog.
But there were so many more stray dogs in Mexico who needed his help. That’s why, in August 2015, Dobisch and his wife, Claudia Capistran, now the organization's president and director, started Canimx, an animal rescue and hospital that helps more than 1,000 dogs per month.
Today, Canimx operates three hospitals in La Paz, a mobile vet clinic and several animal rescue vehicles. They also plan to expand to Mazatlán and Cancun and open a clinic in Ecuador.
Their operations in La Paz are open 24/7 and are staffed by professional veterinarians and specialists who are paid a fair local wage. They’re able to serve anyone, regardless of need. But what makes Canimx truly unique is that the services are offered on a pay-what-you-can scale. No one is turned away for not being able to afford veterinary care.
“We’re the busiest hospital in all of La Paz,” says Dobisch.
How Does Canimx Stay In Business?
Canimx has only received $75 in donations this year, and they have no investors, yet the animal rescue and healthcare facility have been able to operate completely debt-free. What’s their secret? It’s all about buying low and selling high.
When Dobisch, a serial entrepreneur, first started working on Canimx, he knew he wanted to come up with a way for the business to be self-sustainable. He didn’t want to have to rely on donations.
So he became an importer/exporter, buying low-cost medications and veterinary equipment—everything from syringes to X-ray machines—from southeast Asia and selling them back to local veterinarians and customers at a higher price point. He sells his imported goods for less than they can be bought in Mexico, which helps boost sales. All profits go back to Canimx.
“Take something like flea and tick collars,” he says. “We pay about $1.30 and resell them for $3. That’s a heck of a deal in this neck of the woods.”
How Canimx Is Making a Difference
Dobisch’s import/export business empowers Canimx to provide all kinds of veterinary services, from basic checkups, vaccinations and deworming to major surgeries. They can even provide chemotherapy to pets with cancer—all at an incredibly reduced rate.
“The community here in La Paz—they love us,” he says. “But all the vets hate us because we offer such good value. For some families, this is the first time they’ve been able to get quality care for their pets.”
In addition to the hospitals, Canimx also operates an animal rescue and adoption center. Currently, there are 80 cats and dogs—all rescues—up for adoption. There are no cages; the animals have free range of the center.
Canimx has also partnered with local police and government organizations, and even developed an app to ensure that anyone who finds a sick or injured animal can contact them immediately to get help. They help at least one dog per day.
Canimx’s Plan for the Future
Dobisch’s next goal is to expand his operations to America and the rest of the world.
“This works anywhere,” he says. “Canimx can be boxed up and moved to anywhere in Mexico, America and beyond.”
While he works on expanding his business, Dobisch says he’s happy he can at least help the pets of Mexico get affordable, quality care.
“People want to be good pet parents,” he says. “If you could have seen how many kids came in here with their families, crying because no one was helping them. I’ve never felt this good.”
Photo courtesy of Canimx