Friday, Aug 17, 2018
A Dogs Life
Have I talked about the number of stray dogs in Ecuador? I don’t know the numbers, but go into any small town or large city in this country and you will find stray dogs. Some walk around with literally only skin and bones for a body. On the coast, ticks and tick disease are a major concern for animals. Many of the dogs I see in the towns and beaches of the coast are dying a slow death from this disease. It is hard to watch.
Another hard thing to watch are the dogs that have been maimed and left untreated. Since I have lived here I have seen multiple dogs with a leg that is broken or completely disfigured hobbling around on the 3 good ones they have left. They have fallen victim to being hit by one of the many cars, taxis, or buses that run through the main street of every town.
An interesting mindset exists here in the local population. I may be wrong but this is what I have observed. Puppies are adored and once a puppy grows into a full size dog, the interest in them tends to wane by their owners. Many become abandoned and enter the population of homeless strays in a community. Another reality exists, many men here refuse to have their male dogs neutered because they believe it makes them less male. This, in my opinion, is a projection of a very machismo society that exists in Ecuador and South America in general.
Who You Gonna Call?
There are no animal control departments in any town that I have lived in. Injured or diseased animals are left to their maladies and whatever course they run until the animal dies. There have been and continue to be good people here who take it upon themselves to coordinate care and rescue of the stray dogs and cats. Even a couple of pelicans with broken wings have been rescued.
What remains true is that many people who live here, who have resources to take an animal in and would like to help, live in condos or other associations that restrict them having the animals. The problem becomes simple math; there are more strays than people available to take them in. To help curb the increasing numbers issue, free spay and neuter clinics are often coordinated by individuals and groups who are trying to help.
Most Are Nice
Since I have lived here I’ve encountered stray dogs hundreds of times on the streets and beaches. I have never been overly bothered or hurt by any of them. On the beach these dogs love to chase the cars, motorcycles, and bicycles that travel on the sand during low tide. Rarely do any of these dogs chase people walking, and even more rare is that they bite anyone. Well that just changed for me today.
It Just Takes Two to Ruin It
I was doing my regular beach trek from my house to Olon. On the beach at San Jose, next to the Cuna Luna hotel, I encountered two very aggressive dogs who are often here and will chase anything that moves. They showed up months ago, and by their general weight and condition it is apparent they aren’t strays but owned by someone. One is a long haired, mostly black, with some white underbelly, dog and the other is a light brown, coffee colored dog. They are always together.
I have walked by them before and when they spy me from a hundred feet away they often will come barreling toward me, barking and snapping as they approach. I’m not afraid of dogs, so I don’t break my stride and just keep walking. So although incredibly annoying, it has been nothing more than that until now.
Today when they came running at me I did feel scared so I stopped. The black and white one was barking and snarling at me, so I decided to talk to it. I looked it in the eye and in a calm voice said, “good doggy, what’s wrong, good doggy”. (It just hit me that I was speaking English to an Ecuadorian dog. Lol.) His barking and bared teeth didn’t change, so I turned around and began walking again.
That’s when he did it; he bit my calf. What a fucker! I was so pissed off. There were only two other people on the beach and they saw what went down. I asked them both if the dogs were theirs and they said no. Being angry I didn’t leave the scene immediately, but looked for a rock to chuck at this dog who was still barking at me. When I found one I chucked it at him. Damn, I wish I could throw. I missed but the dog left.
Anyway, I continued on my walk into Olon. When I got there I stopped by the police station to ask what can be done with these dogs, but no one was there. On may way home I went back to the beach where this happened hoping to get a pic of the dogs but they were gone.
Action vs Reaction
I had thought about getting a pic of the dogs after I got bit, but because I was so mad I just wanted to find a rock and hurt the dog that bit me. You know, I think I am nice guy and wouldn’t hurt anything or anyone but I’m not so sure. My point is this, having a pic of the dogs and the two people there would have been good to show the police for some follow up on this. I let my emotions get in the way of helping to get something done, namely these dogs permanently removed from the beach.
I ran into a local woman I know as I continued on the beach home. She lives in San Jose. When I asked her about the dogs she knew exactly what two dogs I was talking about. She even knew where the dogs usually are on the beach. She told me that a little girl was bit in the groin by one of them recently.
So this is the crazy thing about living here. These dogs are a problem. They have a history of being a problem, yet no one takes action to get rid of them. Dogs are not vicious by nature. Someone makes them this way. It is sad this is the state these two dogs are in now, but leaving it go unaddressed is completely irresponsible. I will be following up.
Speaking of following up. Here is what happens when the strays get treated for tick disease and are cared for. This is the same dog posted above after a couple of months of care. He had a very fortunate rescue from the beach and has been given a new beginning. It isn’t all bad news for some of the unwanted animals here.