One thing I’ve been really surprised by since arriving in Chile, is the number of stray dogs I’ve seen roaming the streets of Santiago. My Dad even referred to them as, “the homeless people of Santiago”. In the United States it would be unusual to see this many strays, but most pedestrians here don’t even seem to notice them.
According to an article in The Santiago Times, “There are 215,000 dogs on the streets of Santiago, or approximately one dog for every 30 people in the city. Seventy-three percent have either been abandoned or have an owner who does not tend to them”. Statistics were taken from Pro Animal Chile which, by the way, has one of the most disturbing splash pages I have ever seen!
Most of these Dogs have been previously owned, but the mindset here, is that owners don’t really have to assume responsibility for these animals. It’s a huge problem, because the number of strays so far exceeds the capabilities of local shelters.
Often times, the most humane option is euthanasia!
Occasionally you’ll see stray dogs walking around with little dog sweaters on, and I was wondering what that was all about. Apparently, some of the Santiagons will occasionally dress the strays out of empathy.
Until this issue is resolved, it seems these Dog’s, much like Blanche DuBois from “A Streetcar Named Desire”, will have to rely on the kindness of strangers.