Thursday, January 20, 2011

Animal Control for the Island

Free ranging dogs are a part of our history. Before automobiles, it didn’t matter so much if a dog was in the road. Videos of indigenous tribes show dogs just hanging around the village. The first dogs to be confined by humans were probably sentry dogs. Pampered little dogs had to be a close second.

Animal control as an organized effort didn’t begin until after the automobile. It seems like before the automobile everybody had a hand gun, so rabid dogs were shot on the spot. Population control was probably, shoot or run off.

Sixty years ago very few dogs lived in the house. Dogs were fed table scraps. Canned dog food was a new item in the stores. We changed the way we live with dogs. Today’s dog doesn’t leave home without health insurance. Dog training is better than ever; dog sports, day care, clothes.

Dog lovers happily take each step with their furry buddies. Most of us don’t live on farms anymore, so a dog or a cat is our connection to nature. We divorced nature a long time ago to head to the city.

One thing about dog people is that we all have strong opinions. Mine arrived in Puerto Rico with the luggage. Round up the strays; take them to the shelter. What could be simpler? I was the huffy tourist who couldn’t understand the way the island people live with dogs.

My good friend, Gloria said, “Before you condemn, understand that this IS a different culture. Be open to another’s way of doing things.” Thank you, my friend. It took me a long time to see more than the danger the dogs faced and the suffering.

After a few years of watching the dogs, I’ve learned that we have a symbiotic relationship with the island dogs. We can’t get rid of them. We need them. They eat rats. They eat our leftovers, better them than the rats. Rats carry more disease, left unchecked they will decimate the food crops.

The satos are a benefit to the island. Its just time we step up to take care of them. Trap and release, vaccinate, health check and spay the girls. Put a government collar on all healthy vaccinated animals. Animal control set up to meet the needs of the island.

Animal control in the continental US does not cover shelters for the rodent predators. Nobody worries if a coyote had enough to eat or a fox.

Does this make sense to anybody?

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