A group of eight CFL players, including Chris Getzlaf, from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Buck Pierce and Chris Cvetkovic of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, are in Mexico helping an aid organization rescue and treat stray cats and dogs.
They are working with a veterinary clinic in Bonfil, a community near the resort area of Cancun, and speaking in schools about the need to care for animals and the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
"If you're just driving down any regular street you're seeing just dogs everywhere," Getzlaf told CBC News Wednesday. "I think the number is two dogs to every one person in Mexico."
An organization called Cats and Dogs International is coordinating the work, a one-week long blitz that aims to spay and neuter as many animals as possible.
Getzlaf said the clinic has been very busy with around 10 veterinarians treating the animals.
"Just one after another dog being put in front of them," he said. "I think they're doing an amazing job."
Getzlaf said he and seven other CFL players were approached by Chris Cvetkovic, an avid advocate for pets, to take part in the week-long Mexico clinic.
Some of their costs were covered through a sponsorship with a travel company, Air Transat.
"I only have one dog," Getzlaf said. "And I just love being around animals."
He said he has seen many examples of malnourished and mistreated dogs while in Mexico.
"It's kind of heartbreaking," he said. "It's hard to see."
One of the players planned to adopt an injured dog and take it home, he added.
Getzlaf said a typical day involves work at the clinic to prepare for surgeries, including sedating animals and shaving their fur for the doctors.
He said they were treating several dozen animals every day.
In addition to the surgery, the animals were getting cleaned up as best as possible.
Getzlaf said they would try to get strays to owners but many that were taken in as strays would be strays again, although in better shape and spayed or neutered.
The CFL players participating are:
- Ian Logan – Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
- Andre Durie – Toronto Argonauts.
- Marc-Olivier Brouillette – Montreal Alouettes.
- Jabari Arthur – Calgary Stampeders.
- Chris Getzlaf – Saskatchewan Roughriders.
- Buck Pierce – Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
- Brady Browne – Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
- Chris Cvetkovic – Winnipeg Blue Bombers.