Stray dogs in Yucatan, a critical problem… Can we do something about it?

Stray dog at Ek Balam archaeological site (Photo:

According to the dailypuppy website, there are hundreds of thousands of stray dogs living in the streets and on the beaches of Mexico.

Though there are no up to date hard and fast stats for how many dogs are eking out an existence in Mexico, Mexico City authorities report that they capture and kill an estimated 20,000 dogs per month in their city alone.

In Manzanillo, a coastal city in the state of Colima on the Mexican Pacific coast, there are more than 16,000 dogs and cats living on the streets. With little food and sustenance, searing heat and very little shelter, these dogs have few friends and a lot of enemies.

Because they lack basic care, they succumb to diseases and serious problems such as claws growing into their feet and coats matting, which pulls on the skin and creates a safe haven for insect larvae. They are infested with fleas and ticks, and many suffer from mange.

But starvation, dehydration, sickness and exposure are not their biggest challenges; tragically, the root of the problem comes from people’s indiference, apathy and ignorance towards these poor creatures.

There are many stories all over the Internet of street dogs in Mexico being tortured by kids, set on fire, killed for sport and tossed overboard when they sneak onto a fisherman’s boat to look for scraps. Anti-cruelty laws, if they exist at all, are ambiguous. Authorities don’t prosecute offenders.

On top of that, spaying and neutering is not widely accepted. The “machismo” attitude of men in Mexico prevails. They don’t believe in neutering because they believe that by doing so it will “make them gay,” as reported by Smithsonian Magazine and explored more fully in a documentary about Mexican street dogs called “Companions to None.”

“Companions to None” trailer

But not all Mexicans are of the opinion that dogs are pests; in some families they are beloved pets, just like in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France or any other “first world” country. In these families, dogs are walked on leashes and lovingly cared for.

Dogs need minimum requirements for housing, feeding, watering, sanitation, ventilation, shelter from extremes of weather and temperature, adequate veterinary care, separation by species where necessary, but most of all they need LOVE.

Yucatan is definitely not an exception in this matter, anyone who has driven around the city of Merida or the Yucatecan countryside, or spent any time in the pueblos has seen far too many starving, mangy or neglected dogs.

Stray dog at Ek Balam archaeological site (Photo:
Stray dog at Ek Balam archaeological site (Photo:

Melody McNarland is an active member of the Expat community in the Yucatan; she has helped many abandoned street dogs in our state.

The following is her invitation to the annual fundraising event:

We need your help! Mexico needs your help! The dogs and cats of the Yucatan need your help!

My husband and I moved to Mexico five years ago, from Canada. We currently live in Telchac Puerto.

I have been involved with local animal groups, shelters and spay and neuter campaigns for the last 4 1/2 years.

As rewarding as this volunteer work is, it can also be absolutely heartbreaking.  I have seen countless street dogs in the state of starvation, illness, pain and death.

I have rescued dogs and nursed them back to health. I have found them new homes, some of those homes being in Canada and the United States. I have volunteered at shelters and know that they are overwhelmed with the amount of dogs and cats that show up on their doorsteps every day and they can’t keep up. I have taken part in different events and fund raisers. I have had to bring dogs to the vets to be euthanized, because of their extreme states! Throughout all of my experiences I have learned that Sterilization is the Solution!!

It is the solution to over population, and therefore, the horrible suffering of so many animals!!

This year I am organizing a Halloween Party to raise funds for spaying and neutering dogs and cats of the Yucatan. Money raised will be going to three local animal groups: Evolucion Animal (Merida), No Mas Perritos (Chelem), and Programa Animales Al Rescate (Telchac Puerto). The money raised will only be used for Sterilization.

Halloween Party Final Poster

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