Editor’s Letter – The State of Dogs in Mexico

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For any animal lover who travels to or lives in Mexico, there are very few sadder sights than the state of dogs in this country. Mexico, most of the time, is not a welcoming place for dogs. Strays roam the streets of every city, many starving and looking mangy.
There is an entire segment of Mexican society that treats its dogs the same way they are treated in the US or Canada. They are valued family members, given their vaccinations and taken to the vet when they are sick. But according to Paola Muñoz of Yo Amo A Mi Mascota Mexico, there is another part of society that “need to learn about a culture of care and respect for animals,”
How to reduce the stray population is a long-standing issue for Mexico, and not one with an easy answer, as many of the human population is also suffering and worried about getting food to the table each day. This is turn means that taking proper care of nearby stray dogs is a very low priority when you are concerned about what you are going to feed your children for breakfast.
But, thankfully, there are some organizations fighting the good fight, and they deserve our support.  Please head to page 6 to learn more about Baja Dogs, Yo Amo A Mi Mascota Mexico and Huellitas Del Corazon. All three are non-profit organizations that are daily helping and feeding abandoned dogs.
If you spend any time at all with rescue volunteers, shelter volunteers and workers, or other members of the “animal loving community,” they will tell you that pets should be spayed or neutered. The shelters and rescue organizations here in La Paz require that adopted pets be sterilized, often before they go to their new homes.
Why the emphasis on spaying and neutering? Pay a visit to one of these local animal shelters and you will get an idea of the shamefully high number of unwanted animals produced and discarded every year. You’ll see mixed-breeds and purebreds of every size and shape. Most of them would be wonderful companions. Most don’t deserve to be abandoned in a shelter. Many animals that enter shelters die there because no one wants them.
According to statistics, six to eight million unwanted pets are euthanized each year in the United States. That’s 16,438 to 21,917 pets euthanized every day.
Paola also explained to me what happens when we don’t spay or neuter our pets or help control the population of dogs on the street. An unspayed female dog, her mate and all of their puppies, if none are neutered or spayed, add up to 67,000 dogs in 6 years!
In a bid to reduce the innumerable litters of unwanted puppies and kittens born each year, the city offers a free sterilization service to any and all comers. See Penny Cottee’s story on page three to learn more.
Last year at the clinic, only 1,400 free sterilizations were performed.  A number of reasons can be attributed to this including lack of education and the difficulty of people in far away neighborhoods getting to the clinic with their pets.
It seems to me it is time for the city and state governments to step-up and work together with local non-profits to create spay and neuter programs in the various colonias in La Paz. I have talked to all involved and I understand the difficulties that arise, but it is the one reachable goal that is necessary to end the tragedy that is thrown away puppies and kittens in plastic bags.
Otherwise, we will continue to witness the suffering of animals and there will be an endless supply to fill the foster homes and shelters in the city.  And no one wants that to continue.
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