Better Person Tomorrow: PSA for Fido

Noelina Rissman

What happens when 60% of pet owners see their own pets as disposable objects? This foreign exchange student shares her perspective.

Better Person Tomorrow: PSA for Fido

(Photo courtesy of author)

It can be said that traveling abroad pulls at one’s heart strings in many ways, especially when traveling from a developed country to a country that is yet still developing.

Without a doubt, one particularity that’s struck me the most has been the unbelievable number of stray dogs (and cats) roaming Peruvian cities, looking anywhere for food, affection and shelter.

While it’s true that the issue of stray dogs and cats is not seen as one that will undermine the whole Latin American society, it is still one worth noting for several reasons.

Kennedy Park cat problem coming to an end

It varies from city to city and country to country, but stray animals can be dangerous for humans as many have been known to attack, especially when traveling in packs. Numerous accounts around the world have been reported of humans being bitten, brutally maimed or even dismembered by stray dogs.

In Peru specifically, the amount of respect and treatment shown to dogs is extremely low.

It’s not uncommon for “family” dogs to roam the streets in search of food during the day, returning to their owners at night for awaited affection, which doesn’t always happen.

But as was stated by a student group from the PCUP in Lima called the Association for the Ethical Defense of Animals, “60 percent of people do not believe that it is important to take responsibility for their own pets because they still consider them disposable objects that serve only to protect the house and to have puppies that later can be sold. [Dogs are there] to entertain, like a toy, the little children in the home…When [the dog] is no longer useful or [the family is] bored of it, it is abandoned miserably in the streets.”

And thus contributes to the ruthless cycle of homelessness for these unloved pups.

Moreover, stray animals (especially dogs) pose a threat for transmitting rabies to unsuspecting humans. It is true the number of rabies cases caused by infected dog bites has been greatly reduced in Peru since the 1980s. However, according to the World Health Organization, dogs are still the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans.

How is rabies elimination feasible?

Well, vaccination is a good place to begin (for dogs at least).

And on the cat side of the argument, Parque Kennedy in the district of Miraflores is famous for its entourage of feline companions. Activists and community members share the expense of feeding, vaccinating and sterilizing the cats. And for many reasons, Parque Kennedy is a hot spot for tourists and citizens alike looking to get in some feline relaxation. (There were even angry sentiments toward the district when suspected poisoning of the cats was happening.)

While the most that may happen to you from a stray cat is an aggravated bite or scratch, it is still important to keep felines in mind when considering ways of reducing the entire stray population.

So, here begin the tips one can take for helping to cut down the stray population and attacks around the world.

1. Spay or neuter your pets.

Some may only consider the disadvantages of spaying and neutering pets, but one very apparent advantage is population control. For those who may not be able to afford the appropriate veterinary measures in Lima, the volunteer organization Gatos Kennedy Oficial provides appropriate vet care for Parque Kennedy cats.

2. Adopt, adopt, adopt!

Ready to amp up your life? Considering adopting a furry feline or your new best friend from the nearest shelter! I’ve met many people here in Peru who fully took on the care of abandoned pets roaming the streets (or even Parque Kennedy) and couldn’t be happier.

3. Donate time (or money) to help out!

I understand not everyone has the means or time to take on another member of the family, but there’s always the possibility of donating time (or money) for the betterment of the cause. Placements such as Volunteer Peru’s Dog Rescue program in Cusco allow volunteers to spend weeks at a time helping care for abandoned pups. And kudos to the founder of Milagros Perrunos, who runs her business solely on donations to rescue and care for dogs who are partially paralyzed from being hit by vehicles.

Any little bit helps to become a more conscientious and considerate individual tomorrow.

For more on Noelina and her blog series, feel free to visit her site at

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