PSA for Fido

It can be said that traveling abroad pulls at one’s heart strings in many ways, especially when traveling from a developed country to a country that is yet still developing.

Without a doubt, one particularity that’s struck me the most has been the unbelievable number of stray dogs (and cats) roaming Peruvian cities, looking anywhere for food, affection and shelter.

While it’s true that the issue of stray dogs and cats is not seen as one that will undermine the whole Latin American society, it is still one worth noting for several reasons.

It varies from city to city and country to country, but stray animals can be dangerous for humans as many have been known to attack, especially when traveling in packs. Numerous accounts around the world have been reported of humans being bitten, brutally maimed or even dismembered by stray dogs.

In Peru specifically, the amount of respect and treatment shown to dogs is extremely low.

dog-in-cusco
Barrio de San Blas in Cusco, Peru

It’s not uncommon for “family” dogs to roam the streets in search of food during the day, returning to their owners at night for awaited affection, which doesn’t always happen.

But as was stated by a student group from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima called the Association for the Ethical Defense of Animals, “60 percent of people do not believe that it is important to take responsibility for their own pets because they still consider them disposable objects that serve only to protect the house and to have puppies that later can be sold. [Dogs are there] to entertain, like a toy, the little children in the home. … When [the dog] is no longer useful or [the family is] bored of it, it is abandoned miserably in the streets.”

And thus contributes to the ruthless cycle of homelessness for these unloved pups.

Moreover, stray animals (especially dogs) pose a threat for transmitting rabies to unsuspecting humans. It is true the number of rabies cases caused by infected dog bites has been greatly reduced in Peru since the 1980s. However, according to the World Health Organization, dogs are still the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans.

How is rabies elimination feasible?

Well, vaccination is a good place to begin (for dogs at least).

parque-kennedy-cats
Parque Kennedy

And on the cat side of the argument, Parque Kennedy in the district of Miraflores is famous for its entourage of feline companions. Activists and community members share the expense of feeding, vaccinating and sterilizing the cats. And for many reasons, Parque Kennedy is a hot spot for tourists and citizens alike looking to get in some feline relaxation. (There were even angry sentiments toward the district when suspected poisoning of the cats was happening.)

While the most that may happen to you from a stray cat is an aggravated bite or scratch, it is still important to keep felines in mind when considering ways of reducing the entire stray population.

So, here begin the tips one can take for helping to cut down the stray population and attacks around the world.

  1. Spay or neuter your pets.

There’s a reason why Bob Barker would announce to the public after every Price is Right show “Don’t forget to have your pet spayed or neutered!” Some may only consider the disadvantages of spaying and neutering dogs, but one very apparent advantage is population control. Throughout South America, there are clinics arriving in countries such as Chile, Nicaragua and others that help with the sterilization and treatment of strays. The same can be said for organizations that help lower or eliminate the cost in the United States.

  1. Adopt, adopt, adopt!

Ready to amp up your life? Considering adopting a furry feline or your new best friend from the nearest shelter! I’ve met many people here in Peru who fully took on the care of abandoned pets roaming the streets (or even Parque Kennedy) and couldn’t be happier. And in the States, there are many resources for those looking for a local shelter.

  1. Donate time (or money) to help out!

I understand not everyone has the means or time to take on another member of the family, but there’s always the possibility of donating time (or money) for the betterment of the cause. Placements such as Volunteer Peru’s Dog Rescue program in Cusco allow volunteers to spend weeks at a time helping care for abandoned pups. And kudos to the founder of Milagros Perrunos, who runs her business solely on donations to rescue and care for dogs who are partially paralyzed from being hit by vehicles. Check out the United States Human Society’s website for a list of ways to be a donating advocate.

Any little bit helps to become a more conscientious and considerate individual tomorrow.

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