So today was another eye-opening day for me. If there is one thing in the world that is harder for me than any other, it is to see an animal in pain or suffering. In Asuncion, there are many animals “de la calle”, or strays. You will see dogs wandering around looking for food, or cats darting across the street in search of shelter. I have experienced this before in other countries I’ve traveled to, particularly in the Caribbean, and it always gives me the same amount of heartache and sadness, feeling for these animals that they have no other choice but to struggle for survival.
It always makes me wonder about the disparity between families with pets and those without. How can a family on my street have well-kept healthy dogs in their front yard, and watch those without homes walk around skinny and scrounging without their hearts going out to them. You HAVE pets, you ARE an animal lover, do you not see the same thing that I see? I just don’t get it. But I guess that’s humanity in general…I just don’t understand.
So today, Laura and I were outside and encountered the same dog I had been seeing the last couple of weeks, she has an injured front leg and walks with a drastic limp, and is skinny as can be, and has clearly just given birth to a litter of pups from the look of her. She approached us, calmly and sweetly, and had the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. My heart sank, and I began to panic about what to do. Laura had a fresh homemade meat empanada that we gave to the poor thing and she wagged her tail in appreciation before wolfing it down. After lunch I went back outside to give her the rest of my milanesa (fried beef) which I had been saving for her.
I went inside to brainstorm with Laura what we could do to help. Laura said she might be able to get her parent’s car to take the dog to the vet to find out what is wrong, and hopefully get her a warm place to sleep with some food for a few days, (as the temperature has dropped drastically in the last few days here to the 40s at night.) Then we reached out to Adoptame con Amor y Responsabilidad (Adopt me with Love and Responsibility) a group created by young volunteers who want to help street dogs and cats find warm and loving homes. They basically work on the generosity of volunteers and those with big hearts and some money to spare, for each dog or cat their find, they ask their volunteers and members of their facebook group to help raise money to take the dog in to temporary housing, test them for diseases, and to spay/neuter them. Once the dog has passed and been operated on, they set out to find them a permanent home. I cannot tell you how amazing it makes me feel to know that there are animal lovers out there dedicating their time and energy to help these poor animals.
I have spent the better part of today communicating with a member of Adoptame about how to care for this dog, and how to secure enough funds and a vehicle to take her to the vet for treatment, however, after speaking with Fatima this evening – it seems she has a friend who is a vet who she will call to see if he will be willing to charge a reduced price to take care of the dog, as she surely has intestinal parasites, the injury to her leg, and god knows what else. When it comes down to reality, the cost of these tests or operations is significantly lower than in the U.S. and after opening my heart to this poor little dog, I would be willing to give whatever money she needs to heal. It seems there are others who feel the same.
Tomorrow will be a big day for this dog, as she will be brought in for medical attention either by Fatima or Adoptame and hopefully her life will change from there. It makes me feel so sad and helpless, but also has me brainstorming how I can begin some sort of organization or donation fund which allows people from outside the country (or within) to give money to help these animals who need it so much. The Paraguayan government can’t in any socially responsible way begin programs to help animals as they have nearly 2 million people living below the poverty level, (and given that the minimum wage is $300/year there are many more who also live in poverty.) I always want to help but never know how, so I think this is the opportunity to start learning how. There has to be a way to help on a bigger scale!