Intern makes lasting impact for Brownsville pets

Best Friends marketing intern Jazmin Aguilar holding a dog wearing a pink Adopt Me bandanna
Through her shelter marketing internship with Best Friends, Jazmin is helping homeless pets, raising awareness, and setting herself up for future success.
By Christina London

When Best Friends marketing intern Jazmin Aguilar arrives for her shift at the Brownsville Animal Regulation & Care Center (BARCC), she never knows exactly what awaits her. As an intern based at the Texas animal shelter, she may be translating a flyer about BARCC’s community programs into Spanish or photographing a dog who needs a little boost getting adopted. One such pup was a tiny dog named Mama.

“I took a couple of pictures of her, and immediately, people came who just loved her and adopted her,” says Jazmin.

Besides helping find families for homeless pets, Jazmin’s work is enriching her future and the lives of those around her.

Learning the ropes

Born and raised in South Texas, Jazmin is in her last semester at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where she’s studying graphic design. Her knowledge and creativity made her a perfect fit for the animal shelter marketing internship role, the first of its kind at Best Friends.

There was a need at the shelter for just such knowledge and creativity.

[Amazing progress at Brownsville animal shelter]

When she’s not wrangling puppies for a photo shoot, Jazmin is hunkered down on the computer designing flyers and digital graphics, crafting social media posts, and editing videos. Then, she translates everything into Spanish to make it accessible to more people in the community.

Jazmin’s work takes her out of the shelter, too. The college senior can often be spotted in downtown Brownsville, hanging up flyers and chatting with local business owners. She also attends outreach events to promote BARCC’s programs. These include low-cost spay/neuter, vaccination clinics, and free microchipping events — resources people are often learning about for the first time.

Saving more lives

It’s a time of transformation at the shelter in Brownsville. In May 2023, BARCC began working with Best Friends as part of the national shelter embed program, made possible in part by a grant from Maddie’s Fund®. Best Friends manager of embed program operations Taylor Lefebvre came to work full time at BARCC alongside shelter leadership and staff. Together, the team implemented proven strategies to save lives. They started vaccinating pets upon arrival to reduce the spread of disease, changed how pets were housed to help them feel less stressed, and made it easier for people to come in and adopt pets.

From March 2023 to March 2024, the shelter’s save rate went from 36% to 90%, which is the benchmark for no-kill. Best Friends’ goal is for animal shelters nationwide to reach no-kill in 2025, and hands-on support is just one of the ways we support our partners in reaching that shared goal.

With Jazmin’s arrival, Taylor could focus more on shelter operations, knowing that marketing and outreach were in Jazmin’s capable hands.

Raising awareness

From Jazmin’s perspective, her community’s biggest need when it comes to animal sheltering is awareness. Historically, there have been misconceptions about what the shelter is and exactly what it does. “Jazmin has helped dispel some of that and has laid a foundation for long-term relationships to take place,” says Taylor.

The team at BARCC is focused on meeting people to learn about what they need, such as resources for community cats and dogs who live outside. “We're just focusing more on helping them,” says Jazmin. People are beginning to see that the shelter is more than they realized; it’s truly a resource center for them.

[Bilingual outreach results in 200 pet adoptions in south Texas]

BARCC hopes people will see the shelter as part of the community. They’re encouraging residents to get involved at the shelter by adopting, volunteering, and fostering. Because of her existing knowledge and connection with the community, Jazmin’s input has been invaluable.

"We hosted a posada, a popular celebration in some Latino countries observing the journey Mary and Joseph went through asking for temporary shelter. We connected this cultural celebration with animal welfare by asking for volunteers to provide foster homes for shelter pets," says Yoselin Marshall, Best Friends multicultural marketing strategist and Jazmin’s internship supervisor.

Looking to the future

As Jazmin’s internship draws to a close, those who know her are excited to see what she does next. Jazmin’s passion is art, and she and a few friends recently created an art collective. Her dream is to have a space downtown for people who love art but weren’t able to pursue it because life or other priorities got in the way. “I want to keep that creativity going,” she says.

No matter where Jazmin goes, she’ll be leaving a paw print on the shelter and her South Texas community.

“When you walk around Brownsville, you can see coasters, stickers, and flyers with the Best Friends logo on them. She has been a great asset to our multicultural team and has made us think of new ways to try to reach new and younger audiences,” says Yoselin.

“I would love for younger people, especially Latines, to hear Jazmin's story and know that there is room for them in animal welfare.”

Interested in interning with Best Friends? Check out our careers page for current opportunities.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

You can help save homeless pets

You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

Saving lives around the country

Together, we're creating compassionate no-kill communities nationwide for pets and the people who care for them.

Let’s be friends! 

Connect with us on social media to stay in the loop about the lifesaving progress we’re making together.  

Facebook logo    Instagram logo    icon