Venezuela’s abandoned dogs: with runaway inflation, people can no longer afford their pets

With wages that now barely cover the necessities for daily living, many people are unable to look after their animals. Words by Kenneth Dickerman, photos by Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Kenneth Dickerman
Thursday 29 September 2016 16:55 BST
Staff pose with rescue dogs at the Famproa shelter outside Caracas in Venezuela
Staff pose with rescue dogs at the Famproa shelter outside Caracas in Venezuela

Venezuela is in a state of crisis. Prices for everyday necessities have skyrocketed. And that includes the things people need to feed their animals: dog food can fetch up to $50 (£38.50) for a 40lb bag. According to Reuters, average Venezuelans on minimum wage are pulling in $23 a month. The maths is pretty obvious, with wages that low, it is difficult for people to afford the daily necessities for themselves, let alone their pets. And so Venezuela is now experiencing an increase in dogs being abandoned by their owners.

Venezuelans are dropping their dogs off in streets and parks. But there are also makeshift shelters where people can leave their pets. Maria Arteaga oversees one of these shelters – Famproa in Los Teques, in the hills outside Caracas – and has seen the rise in abandoned dogs. Arteaga told Reuters: “The crisis has hit hard…people are abandoning their dogs because they can’t afford food and because they’re leaving the country.” Although Arteaga doesn’t keep an official register of the number of dogs her shelter has been taking in, she says that there has definitely been an increase, with nine poodles being deposited at her shelter in just two weeks.

La China at the Famproa dogs shelter in August. Venezuelans struggling to feed their families let alone pets amid an unprecedented economic crisis are increasingly dumping scrawny animals in streets, parks and makeshift shelters such as Famproa. La China died the week after the photo was taken. “The loving but fearful dog did not like to leave the space where she slept, even to eat,” said Maria Silva, who takes care of dogs at the shelter
Petete has spent more than eight years in the shelter. “When the dog arrived, he had worms and sores on a leg. It was hard to heal and even when it did, his leg never fully functioned again. He is loving, but only until it is meal time, because then he fights with everyone and bites anyone who comes close,” said Silva
The name Cachorron, which means big puppy, was given to him because he never matured and behaves as if he were still a puppy. “He does not like to leave the area where he sleeps. Even if the door was left open, he would not go out in the street. On one occasion a family wanted to adopt him, but it was impossible to make him walk out of the shelter,” said Silva
Alvaro “was brought to the shelter by a neighbour called Alvaro after he saw a car run him over. He was in a very bad condition and almost died, but instead of putting him down, it was decided to give him a few days and wait to see if he could recover,” said Silva
“Bolibomba arrived at the shelter two years ago and is very playful. She loves water. Whenever she can, she gets inside a bucket or bowl with water. If she lived in a house with a pool, she would never come out of it,” said Silva
Tuneco was ill and died in August, the week after this photo was taken at the Famproa sanctuary

© Reuters/The Washington Post

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