Saturday, June 7, 2008

Living in Mexico - Rainy Season and Puppy Dumping Season


The only time one can really say that the often cited "near perfect weather" in Guanajuato takes on a sour disposition is during the late spring and summer. That's when the infamous Rainy Season descends on the inhabitants of Guanajuato and sends locals and expatriates alike running for cover and looking for sinus relief potions and tablets. Though it turns this mountain desert city into a little emerald jewel for a few months, it also has drawbacks that are hard to observe, difficult to discuss, and a bit heartbreaking.

This time of the year also brings the onslaught of unwanted puppies and kittens. Last Sunday, my wife and I were walking in the Pastita area when we saw two puppies that seemed too young to walk much less survive on their own. They were "dumped" at the trash dumpster close to the baseball stadium. Four days later, when leaving for a grocery run, we found another puppy, maybe 4-6 weeks old, at the trash dumpster in front of the CFE building (the electric company) screaming from fright. There it was, in the blazing sun and sweltering humidity, dumped by someone who thought this an appropriate, pro-social behavior. They may have thought this was a kinder act than euthanasia.

I've asked randomly, in various areas of town, why the locals do this. Mind you, I am not referring to every Mexican without exception. However, one local doing this behavior is one too many. The unanimous answer has been that puppies, as well as adult dogs, are dumped rather than having them put down because the "someone-might-rescue-them" mentality overwhelms any sort of attempt at coming up with alternate solutions like humane euthanasia. To not think critically and come up with the answer that Puppy Dumping is the only solution just has to make you stop and say, "You cannot be serious!"

The "someone might take them home" mentality seems to be so pervasive that they don't think outside that box:

"Yes, someone might take them, but the poor creatures might die from the elements, be killed by a car, killed and consumed by a larger dog, or totally ignored to die a hideous death."

Kindness and logic dictate that if you can't keep them, can't place them, rather than risking a horrible cruel death by abandonment, it is kinder to have them destroyed. And yet, that does not seem to fit into the equation of some of the local companion animal owners.

Trash dumpsters and public plazas seem to be favorite places for this cruel habit of animal dumping. The more people who frequent an area, I suppose, the bigger the chance "someone might have pity and take them home." After all, they must reason, the trash dumpster is frequented a lot, so why not dump puppies unable to fend for themselves there?

So, there's the problem. How do we fix it?

Generational problems are the hardest to repair. This problem is not just endemic to Guanajuato but is a nationwide issue. Though I can't confirm this, the anecdotal evidence is that in "some" regions, the problem is more under control than in Guanajuato. When I ask why, I am told that the laws already on the books about animal cruelty are actually enforced in some Mexican towns. If that is so, it is far too few and a change of minds and hearts about this unjust and inhumane treatment has to occur everywhere.

As I said, one instance is one too many. Imagine the suffering of companion animals all over Mexico if indeed it is a national problem.

Some say "education" is the answer. I think it is one component of the answer. Education, reaching the children, is part of the solution. Real and effective enforcement of the laws already on the books, and perhaps making a few more enforceable and stringent laws, is certainly the other missing component, is it not?

When people have to begin forking over their money for allowing their dogs to breed indiscriminately and to run loose unsupervised and unfettered, I think the problem could improve almost overnight. That takes a change in a culture's worldview. Is it too much to expect?

I not only think it is possible to change hearts and minds; I think stranger things have happened.

It isn't too hard.

It can be done!


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