The other day, a man named Marco brought a little six week old furry pup to be seen by Amazon CARES volunteer vets at the health fair – he knew the dog was very sick. He looked at me with hope – maybe he was wrong, maybe the dog would be fine. Of course I said nothing, but asked where he learned to speak English and it turned out he had lived in New York for eight years.
We talked about everything but dogs until one of the vets was free to assess health. Marco asked if I knew about Copa Airlines new direct flight from Miami to Iquitos for $500 and I expressed my surprise. Then Dr. Megan was free to take a look – Parvo virus, no hope.
The pup was a stray – what Marco did seemed very different to what I’d seen on the streets and at the health fair. No one brings street dogs to these events, Amazon CARES staff and volunteers take nets and catch them (if you think that big fish you caught put up a fight, try this!)
Street dogs are feared and chased away from family pets with kicks and shouts. The dogs are pretty savvy and have learned to avoid contact. It costs money to keep dogs healthy and people want to keep them safe from health problems.
Cultural differences? Perhaps in the methods. We all protect what we love – I don’t doubt this happens in the US. It’s tough to change cultural habits, as we are very well aware of in the US with spay/neuter, adoption – look how long it took “pets are part of the family” to become a significant part of the culture. This story underscores the importance of education programs for upcoming generations that create a safe place for animals.
I was glad to meet Marco and the puppy he had tried to save – it showed me another side of what might be happening here. People learn from each other and an act of kindness does not go unnoticed. Even if his neighbors all think he is crazy at first, attitudes can and do change.