MEXICO CITY—Pet dogs are extremely popular in Mexico. In the evenings the parks of Mexico City are teeming with dog walkers often stopping to chat with other owners they only know through a shared passion for their pets. But there is a dark side to this picture of harmony between man and his best friend.
According to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, 70 percent of Mexico’s estimated 18 million dogs live on the street, either born as strays or abandoned by their owners. The country has the largest number of street dogs in Latin America.
The most recent figures from Mexico City’s department of health estimate there are 1.2 million strays roaming the streets of the capital alone.
The Clinica Veterinaria Delegacional is a small shelter in Venustiano Carranza, one of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs.
Tucked away in the shadows of a raised subway track it does its best to give a second chance to the small fraction of the city’s strays fortunate enough to end up there.
Jose Carlos Hernandez Trejo, 26, is a veterinarian at the clinic, which receives support from local animal charity the Antonio Haghenbeck Foundation. It is Trejo’s job to give all new arrivals a medical examination, administer any appropriate vaccinations, and carry out sterilizations, an important way of controlling the stray dog population.
The shelter currently has around 40 cats and dogs living in cages laid out across a concrete courtyard but that can rise to 80 at certain times of year.
“There are periods when there are going to be a lot more animals abandoned—February, March, April, and up until May,”Trejo told The Epoch Times.
He speculates that the reason is that many people receive pets as Christmas gifts in December, and then later abandon them.
“People think they’re a thing or an object, not a living being that needs food, water, attention, washing, and plenty of care. Later they don’t understand when it goes to the bathroom or bites their child. They generate problems and then they end up here.”
The clinic has an arrangement with the Petco Foundation to help the animals find new homes.
Most stay an average of a month to recover from whatever illnesses or injuries they may have suffered and then are taken to another shelter or home, though some have stayed for almost a year in the past battling illness before being able to leave.
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