by Stasya Briggs aka La Rusa , the founder and volunteer of Amigos de Animales

”….. I wake up before dawn, feeling someone softly nibbling my nose – our rescue kittens are in the mood for cuddles and attention…

15 cats and 2 dogs sleep with me, I need a bigger bed …

I am Stasya, or as everyone in the zip code calls me La Rusa. I was born in a country that does not exist any more -USSR, half Russian – half Ukrainian, american by passport and Latina by heart . Gypsy, Adventurer, an Animal Lover …

in 2010 after a family tragedy, I sold my house and left USA, the soul-searching brought me to Mexico. I stumbled on a little fishing village,Barra de Potosi on the coast of Guerrero; bought a place that was falling apart and turned it into a gorgeous little Inn – Hacienda la Rusa .

Great weather year around, gorgeous beach, friendliest people ever and delicious food ! What’s not to like !?

Our first summer , after all the tourists and winter residents were gone, one morning we woke up with homeless dogs coughing blood and vomit , suffering … dying on the streets and the beach …

This was my personal hell.

As you might know one of the most popular cheap and easy methods to control dog and cat population is rat poison… inhumane horrible nightmare …

what do you do if this is now your home?! you can try to leave/move/run or you can try to make things better, and I believe anyone of you would do the same …

I found a local person in charge – comisario, I promised him I would do everything possible and impossible to keep the animal population under control , and the same week Mike, my life partner, and I started our regular trips to low cost spay and neuter place , SPAZ , in Zihuatanejo.

For over a year, once or twice a week, I would load 5-7 dogs and cats into our truck, head to SPAZ, leave them to get fixed, go back to work and a few hours later back to pick them up… So grateful , Mike , who is disabled and can hardly walk, was always there for me to give a hand, when I was loading large dogs and carrying them flights of stairs …

I met a lot of my neighbors, from across the street to the most remote ranchos; made great friends; I walked door to door, introducing myself and talking to everyone who cared to listen about animals and animal welfare. Word by word, I was learning bits and pieces of spanish; I went to little villages and to schools off the beaten path. Pantomimed to indigenous people trying to explain what its all about,shared tortillas with the poorest families out there. Got infected with mange, fungus, west nile , chinkungunya, dengue, zika…

now,I walk dogs in the Sierra and an old ranchero waves – La Rusa ! I have a dog to sterilize, when is the next clinic?!

in 2015 , I started to work with local children and organized my first Mass Spay and Neuter clinic ! Great  team led by Robin Gunter of Baja S/N foundation heard my plea for help and came to give a hand. 100 animals were sterilized during the first clinic . Then the next one, another one week long spay and neuter marathon …slowly I was extending our borders and coverage to the Airport, Los Achotes and all neighboring villages and towns.

Children from my village of Barra de Potosi were helping at every clinic!

in 2018 , I teamed up with a great vet Eunice Cuesta of  Pets Planet , Lazaro Cardenas, Mich and  did 2 days  clinics  every 2-3 months  in small towns and villages between Zihuatanejo and Petatlan. 

After each clinic I wake up with every muscle and joint hurting… thinking I am too old and sick for this stuff…

14 -16 backbreaking hours each day, in the sauna heat of rural Guerrero , fullof mosquitoes, fleas and ticks , with shade and fans for the animals only, covered in blood, vomit and pee,forgetting to have a sip of water…

But then I remember …

I remember the hard work and happy faces of my comrades; I remembered how grateful the pet owners were, people with no means were bringing us coconuts and ice; I remembered even the youngest of our kids volunteers refusing to head back home, carrying on till the end of the day; I remembered how my little team mates were teaching kids from other villages how to care for the animals;

and most important, I remember the dogs and cats we took care off on those days and thousands of puppies and kitties, who will not have the cruel fate of being born only to be killed or to live the life of starvation and abuse.

After years of physically and mentally exhausting, challenging, incredibly rewarding, but mostly stressful job, we have covered a huge territory south of Zihuatanejo; we have sterilized over 4000 animals; worked with kids , adults, communities; found families for many and fed,treated , euthanized hundreds and hundreds …

Mike and I spent everything we had… saved … earned .. and even loaned , on animals, but we would still do it all over again – we have saved thousands of precious  lives… 


Amigos de Animales is the largest and oldest Animal Welfare charity foundation operating south of Zihuatanejo with 2 sanctuaries , Playa and Sierra, where we care for anywhere between 50-120  animals, dogs and cats. Amigos de Animales realizes on donations and your help to continue our Noble Mission of saving lives.

Please, check how you can help us 

We are eternally grateful for your compassion, kindness and generosity!