Municipality does good

March 11, Wednesday
In the environmental department of the Valparaiso municipality, I met with Mauricio Gonzalez, a man who has set a program in motion aimed at sterilizing the entire female street dog population of Valparaiso. This represents some 25,000 dogs out of an estimated total of 100,000. The reason there are so many more male dogs? For one, females are less desirable and the puppies are often put into plastic bags and thrown into the river. Accompanying Mauricio and his team into the city, I filmed them trying to catch a bitch in heat who had a suitor hot on her tail. We also found another burn victim.

The municipality goes out apparently 2-3 times per week, when really they could be out there every day, all day – as soon as we were in the market place, people were pulling them in all directions to help desperate dogs.

Mauricio escorted me to a shelter run in collaboration with a welfare group that has jumped the gun on filling the place with 450 dogs captured off the street (total capacity is 700) but the shelter has yet to receive the municipality stamp of approval. The shelter itself seems promising, hidden in a gum tree forest behind huge walls. A-frame shelters dot the enclosures, each filled with anything from 3 sickly dogs to 50 yipping lapdogs desperate for attention.
dsc_0478aI see now my own naivety in wanting to create a shelter – on the positive side, the inmates receive food, water and shelter and are in no danger of being struck by cars or abused by random people, plus it’s an opportunity to educate the public on appropriate care of dogs, but is it better to take dogs off the street, out of their familiar territory, only to stick them in confinement without any guarantee of adoption, subject to a handful of caretakers at best, deprived of adequate affection?

From what I’ve seen on the street, I would say yes to shelters – well run shelters. So the question then is whether the public can help financially support them, whether programs can be put in place that provide jobs that bring the people and animals together, and whether enough adoptions can take place to move animals through them, rather than create situations of long-term captivity and deprivation that often end in euthanasia.


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