Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Santo Domingo. Stray Animals. What is their real status?

It might be the area I am staying at, the juction of Avenida Mexico and Avenida Maximo Gomez, but I have seen less stray animals than I expected before coming to Santo Domingo. Many of the stray dogs I have seen are full-bodied with good fur on them. Only a few fit my image of a stray animal---thin, mangy, having only clumps of matted fur, a body spangled with festering wounds. Stray animals also have that look of being on a constant search for food. This is a very sad image. These are certainly not the strays that I meet at the shelter in New Jersey. Our strays escaped from their homes and lost their way, ending up at the shelter. The strays in Santo DomingoI make the streets their home. They live and die on the concrete pavements of the city. Frequent visitors to garbage dumps, these dogs consume rotten, maggot-infested leftovers. I have seen them in Santo Domingo, but not many. Is this good?

Well, I don't know for sure. As I said, it could be the area I am residing at. However, I have done a good amount of driving in the city and even a day's trip East of the city to a small seaside town called Bayahibe. Along the way, when I was slowly making my way through the busy main street of La Romana, I got a glimpse of this little fellow who fit the description. The other dogs I saw hung out in front of bodegas, unleased and with no collars, sleepy from the afternoon heat and sun. I think some Dominicans allow their dogs to wander off into the neighborhood, trusting that they will come home unharmed.

Does the city government of Santo Domingo have a strict policy against stray dogs and cats? Does it do a great job at rounding them up? Is there a dogmeat trade in the country? I am afraid to ask, but I will when I get a chance. I am hoping that it is just a matter of effective and humane animal control.

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