Saving the street dogs of Cúcuta

In the department of Norte del Santander on the Colombian/Venezuelan border, the street dogs are running out of luck…not that they had much to begin with. A local NGO called Amor por los Animales (AMA) is asking pet owners to sterilize their dogs in an effort to control the runaways. As part of their effort, they are are distributing flyers that say “Sterilize your pet and save the life of hundreds of innocent animals.”

In the case that they get out of their pen or living area, and many of them do, the NGO hopes that sterilizing them will result in less perros callejeros (street dogs) which converts into less dogs suffering with diseases like Rabies. The Departamental Institute of Health has so far sacrificed 1,200 dogs found in very bad shape in order to curb the runaway population but the new initiative by AMA is hoping to get around such measures. 

Out of the 1,200 that have been euthanized in one year, 300 others have undergone the sterilization at a cost of between 80,000 pesos to 120,000 pesos (around $45 US dollars) each. The dog owners are asked to at least put up 50,000 pesos ($25 US dollars) with the rest being covered through other means. 

The total dog population of Norte del Santander is around 170,000. 

For the story in Spanish, go here to El Tiempo.

My Take

Having lived in Brazil and traveled within Colombia, runaway dogs are a big problem, no doubt. What saddened me about what I saw in Brazil is the fact that when someone didn’t feel like feeding or caring for their dog anymore, they let them out onto the street. It is common practice, from what I saw, for dog owners to let their dogs out during certain periods during the day, to play and get exercise, but with the intention of letting them back in at some point before nightfall. It seems sterilization is a good option as in the least, it can mean that less dogs will be killed from diseases. The problem of why the runaway population is seemingly so large (how does one really count the total number) is another story.  

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