Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
We have just been adopted. I know it is rather late in life for such an occurrence. But as is true in most families, there is always room for one more. In this case, we were adopted by a four-legged furry character we named “Bear.” This golden color chow/lab mix started following our dog Boo and I home after our walks. He was such a well-mannered dog; I couldn’t believe he was on the street. I started asking around the neighborhood, and found out that he followed a little Mexican boy home, and his family had no intention of keeping him.
Bear had a bad limp, and no one in the neighborhood seemed to know what to do about it. I was told if a Mexican family took an injured animal to a vet in Riberas that he would not charge for the visit, so we volunteered our van as transportation. I invested in another collar and a leash, and we went to the vet with a Mexican man from our neighborhood. Bear had an infected paw and would require antibiotics twice a day for three weeks. Well, the visit wasn’t free, so we paid for the consult, and the antibiotics. Next it was a flea bath and before we knew it, Bear had taken up residence in our home…much to the chagrin of our two cats.
This has been a learning experience for everyone. I assumed when his paw healed, I could just drop him off at a local shelter. But I found out the shelters were full. No takers. I learned that the shelters were full because so many families here in Mexico are having such a hard time financially that they are unable to feed their dogs so they are turning them out onto the street. They also fill up in the spring. I was shocked to learn that many of the seasonal residents also turn their dogs into the streets before they returned to their homes north of the border.
To me, a house is not a home without pets. Two cats and now two dogs may be a bit much, but they are all rescued and I don’t know whom we would have turned away. I understand why someone would want to get a dog, or adopt an animal for their seasonal home, but I will never understand why anyone would simply turn that same pet out into the street later. I always thought adoption as a life-long commitment. Apparently some people have a different opinion.
I recognize that it is a sad fact of life in Mexico that there are some residents who must make a choice between feeding their pet and feeding their family. I understand that there are circumstances where people have emergencies or problems and must return North of the Border, and that they may not be able to take their pets with them. But there has to be a better solution than opening the front gate and kicking the animal to the curb.
Volunteers who work hard to care for the animals and find them homes usually staff the shelters. But they just do not have enough room. And when people adopt animals, the shelters do not expect that they will be turned out again in the space of a few months.
My solution? I don’t have the ability to start up a pet-rental agency, or another shelter. I would just encourage all pet owners to be responsible, and to find homes for their pets rather than turning them out into the already over-crowded streets.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com