On Strays

Que triste

The subject of stray dogs came up this weekend as there was a pack of them hanging around the hostel in Cabarete, and I was thinking out loud that a humane solution would be to cull them. Stray dogs dominate the Dominican Republic, in barrios, cities, rural areas, and beaches. They spend their entire lives peddling for food, hunting through and eating trash on the side of the road, and drinking water out of stagnant pools of algae. They are generally ignored by the human population as they don’t seem to possess aggressive demeanors, and don’t strive for affection. Still, a large percentage of them must carry some sort of disease and since most of them don’t look old (not a professional dog-ager, however), I assume they don’t live for too long before finding a dark alley to pass away.

My case for culling is predicated on the complete absence of a spayed or neutered population, which means they must still promote species reproduction. It’s for the puppies, I say. I actually see far fewer puppies than I do juvenile or adult dogs, but many females have the traits of having multiple litters or are pregnant at the time. It’s not fun to see, really, and I would like to see the vicious cycle slow down a little bit. Also, Dominicans drive like crazy, so they live in constantly perilous conditions and probably suffer far slower and more painful ends than a quick (euthanasia) shot. Sickness, blunt force trauma, and generally poor living conditions seems like no way to live for future generations of street dogs. I was pretty much alone in my view, and from what I gathered it was for a couple reasons.

First, it’s not a very comfortable thing to think about willingly ending the lives of so many (or any) domesticated dogs, and I agree.  Through owning  a couple dogs growing up and seeing them both put down, it’s not fun at all. However, when we euthanised our Great Dane puppy at eight years old, she had gone through a couple hip surgeries, cried every time she had to get up to use the bathroom, and spent most of her days within a yard radius, I don’t think for once that we should have kept her in pain for the happiness of owning her for another day. That was two days before Christmas, and it sucked, but  sometimes the harder thing to do is the right one.

The second reason I gather is that we don’t know how bad their lives are, which is true. Although their lives are really rough, they do have a few things going for them. They live in a tropical environment and never need to search for warmth, generally have a lot of trash to look through, and are left alone for the most part by humans. Even through the hostel, these dogs are normal, they play with eachother and run around and spend most of their time resting. I’ve even come across colmados with dogs lying on the ground, so some are adopted strays – just “housing challenged”.

In the end, I don’t know. They always look to be in rough shape, but that’s coming from a perspective where my country’s population spends $50 billion annually on their pets. Also, they’re so darn cute.

I dedicate this post to our two canine family members, Risky and Galaxy, who never did learn to read.

More reading:

– Angel: A Happy, Healthy Stray

– Devil: Baghdad

Reading: Travesía, Melvin Mañon

Listening: Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs

Dominicanismo: Huevos revoltiaó – Scrambled eggs


One thought on “On Strays

  1. Speaking of dogs with diseases – while living in Bangkok we encountered many strays who carried rabies so we were careful to avoid all strays. It is very sad to see so many homeless dogs and many countries just don’t have a policy for controlling them. You have written a very thoughtful essay on the problem. Love, Grandma

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