Friday, December 27, 2013
Thoughts on Puerto Rico's Dog Problem
On Puerto Rico discarded pets masquerade as island dogs, cowering among the strays. If not hit by a car, they have a chance to learn the rules of the road for survival. Ripped from all they know, where they’re home, the wheels come to brief stop and out they’re shoved out, or tossed in a bucket.
Can you imagine how scared it would be to be suddenly lost and alone, torn from your home, however bad it may be? Dogs shaking, shivering with fear lie down on the side of the road not feet from where they were dumped out because they don’t know what to do; would you? Confused some step into traffic.
Many people, if not most, given a decent alternative, will do the right thing. It’ll be $60 to spray your dog, well, you think that’s a lot of money, but she’s a nice dog, no puppies, no heat cycles with males hanging around; still, the kids need shoes, but the family loves the dog, so we’re going to do it. The next thing you know they’re telling you about shots $35 and then there’s a three way test the dog needs so she can take these pills each month for heart worm. On $900 a month for a family of four; what do you think they do?
All the puppies a kid can want hang around, until little by little the number dwindles, nature’s profusion drives natural or unnatural demise or as others call it, God’s will. God gives and God takes away, call it what it is, easy come, easy go. In Spanish they say, “Paga nada, es mierda,” pay nothing, it’s shit. In this cauldron of life, unhappy and undervalued humans find it easy to be cruel. Some seem little acquainted with the merits of compassion to species deemed inferior. Even those genuinely wishing to take care of the dogs make hard choices with limited resources.
For all the years my husband and I came and went, my neighbors fed the street dogs living outside their gates, encouraged some to stay, to alert and protect, but never to be their dog in any way that would obligate them. For dogs she really liked one neighbor bought kibble, lucky dog! When Stormy, the pride of the neighborhood was hit by a truck, he languished on the side of the road for two days before a neighbor called me in Illinois to tell his son lovingly put a tarp over him, while underneath he was eaten by ants, flies and maggots. Two days before my friend scooped him out of the road to take him to the veterinarian’s clinic, where it was too late, they put him to sleep.
His body wasn’t cold before another dog slept in his spot. The neighbors fed him the leftovers; all was the same. When I returned I mentioned his name, oh, what a shame, sad, but in God’s hands is all anybody said.
Forty vets neutering forty dogs a day, three days a week will neuter 249, 600 dogs a year. This isn’t nature’s abundance compensating for natural die back, an overwhelming number of dogs on the street have been discarded by people, who may not have tossed them if they didn’t have new puppies at home.