Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let’s Take Another Look at The Street Dog Problem

The satos/street dogs and gatos/cats of Puerto Rico protect the island from frantic procreation by rats. The dogs attach themselves to households, where they get table scraps. As an added bonus, the satos escort late night walkers through their territory, barking all the way.

For some families satos provide the benefits of having a dog without the responsibility of ownership. Many senior citizens have friendly relationships with street dogs, but can’t afford their own care, so the satos rarely get much more than leftovers. Some people own dogs, which they feed kibble. Scraps still go to the satos. This is a fairly healthy symbiotic relationship.

Beaches in the more heavily populated parts of the island are dumping grounds for unwanted pets. Pathetic pooches have little chance of learning the ways of the satos because experienced satos are picked up with the pets. The dumped dogs know nothing about living on the street; without role models to teach them to hunt they don’t have much of a chance. There is nothing healthy about this situation.

Big hearted animal lovers run around rescuing as many dogs as they can; others round up sick and healthy strays to be euthanized. Without any controls on procreation this is a cycle doomed to repeat itself forever.

After interviewing people across the island, my conclusion is that people are basically unaware that the satos and gatos help to control the rodent population. Perhaps a fresh look at the problem is in order?

The island does not have the rodent predators like we do on the continent. The U.S. model of animal control is not appropriate for the island. Before anyone suggests importing more predators, please, remember the mongoose.

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