Sissy: The story of a stray puppy
For: María Recinos
I’m a rescue dog. This is my story.
I was abandoned on the street twice. Like many homeless dogs, I was born on a vacant lot. There were eight of us pups, and my mom left in search of food. There were so many of us that we weren’t all able to eat. One day, momma didn’t come back. For days we would see people pass us by with indifference, and we couldn’t understand why. One day my brothers were taken away, and my two sisters and I were left behind. But one morning I woke up and they too had disappeared. I tried to follow their trail but couldn’t find them.
I was alone at the age of 3 months. That day I tried to cross the street in search of food and shelter, but I was hit by a car. I was in a lot of pain. I cried out for help. I was still very hungry. The first time, I was found by Rosas zona 5 de Xela. They helped me but didn’t want to take me in. I didn’t understand why they didn’t want me nor what my problem was. The second time that I was reported somebody said they would take care of me, but they too ended up abandoning me on the street. Around a month had passed since I was hit by the car and I still couldn’t find someone to help me.
A little later, a couple found me wandering the street. They took me in and gave me my first bath (which, of course, I resisted at first out of fear, but when I felt the warm water, I loved it!) They gave me some food and I scarfed it down not knowing if they would give me food again. I was malnourished and needed to gain weight. Fortunately, they took me to the vet. It didn’t look good: one of my front paws was fractured and would be difficult to treat due to the time that had passed since the injury. I needed surgery which, though it wasn’t expected to be complicated, was going to be costly. My caregivers contacted the Asociación Chuchitos y Mishitos who decided to help me. They held a raffle in my support, selling pet goods. With great enthusiasm my caregivers shared my story and collected donations from others.
One day, my caretakers put me in the car. I was scared: I thought I was going to be abandoned yet again. I was sad thinking I wouldn’t see them again. That’s the last thing I remember thinking before I fell asleep. When I woke up, I heard them saying I was going to get better soon and that I would be able to run again. They were saying I was going to lead a normal life free of pain and tears. I was wearing an ugly cone on my neck and I noticed that something had happened to my paw. It was then that I realized I had had surgery. The vet joined my bones with a plate and some screws, but I was happy, wagging my tail with joy at the realization that I hadn’t been abandoned after all. My caretakers brought me home and spoiled me. I gained weight again and received therapy.
It’s been about two months, and I can walk and run again. I’ve learned to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I can be mischievous, but I have a lot of toys to play with. I share the house with my little brother: a Siamese cat I often lick with affection. I was finally adopted by the couple that found me, who, with other people like Gaby from the Asociación Chuchitos y Mishitos helped me to get better. My owners watched out for me and oversaw my recovery with care. Now I care for and love them! I finally have a name: Sissy.
This is my story and also the story of many other puppies and kittens. Some are not as lucky as I have been. Our mothers haven’t been sterilized and we are born on the street and in the fields in deplorable conditions. Some are unable to survive the hunger, weather and abuse of others who mistreat and even kill us. Few are those of us who are rescued, brought to shelters and adopted by people who care about our situation. The vast majority of puppies live off of garbage in the streets and sleep exposed to the elements. Others are struck and killed by cars.
Many people are unaware of our situation. There are many dogs who need to be adopted and have a life with the care that they need. However, people prefer to by dogs from breeders, though many of those dogs are also abandoned and mistreated by their families. Many are left out on the porches of their houses, exposed to the sun and rain. Many female dogs are exploited to produce litter after litter, only to have their puppies sold off. A lot of dogs are sold in markets and on the streets by people who intentionally ignore the fines and penalties they could face, advertising all over social media as if there weren’t any puppies like me who need a home. With every purchase of a dog that people make form breeders, this cycle of abuse is perpetuated, as us rescue dogs lose yet another chance at finding a loving home.
Recently, my owners—my human parents—were watching the news in early November when Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua were struck by Hurricane Eta. Floods and landslides wreaked havoc on many areas of those countries, and teams were mobilized to help people who had become stuck on their roofs or trapped by rising rivers. Sadly, the news also mentioned how little attention animals in need were receiving in the aftermath of this disaster, though there are always good Samaritans: owners and rescue organizations who come to our aid, rescuing families and their pets or homeless animals.
Guatemala’s Animal Protection Law was approved by Congress on February 28, 2017. It protects animal companions (dogs and cats) and regulates the protection of wild and exotic animals that live in captivity. Enforcement of the law is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA). Though this is a step forward, proper enforcement of the law faces many challenges, as animals in the street are forgotten by society and the authorities. They’re simply not a priority. People need to be made aware of this law and conscious society needs to motivate itself to bring cases to the police and local authorities so that the law can be enforced and sanctions applied. There must also be follow-through, or else these denunciations will have been made in vain.
There are animal rescue associations who work with veterinarians to sterilize animals at low cost. These associations sell products like animal accessories, souvenirs, or even baked goods to raise funds and sustain themselves. Many animals have been rescued and supported by these organizations. Often, they are the ones to bring us to our first vet visit, but they cannot work alone. Their expenses are too high. They also receive donations from people who want to help and are aware of the situation that we stray animals face. Thanks to their work, these associations and their volunteers have found a home for many animals. However, though they do all they can to reduce the number of stray animals, there are so many of us that their work only makes a small dent in this giant problem.
As a rescue dog, I invite all people to make any kind of donation whatsoever to associations that work in support of animals. If you don’t want to see us in the streets, don’t hurt us or kill us! Be a part of the animal control solution. For now, we need shelters so that we don’t wander the streets. Municipal authorities and government organizations need to get involved and prioritize our defense. Funding needs to be designated to reduce the overpopulation of stray animals through sterilization. I beg you to report cases of abuse. Authorities need to uphold the law and punish people who hurt any animal, be it in the street or at home.
I invite all people to make themselves aware of the overpopulation of stray dogs, and to not spend their money on poison to get rid of us. Better yet, Sponsor our sterilization. If you kill us, you will never be able to stop us because we will keep reproducing. We do not decide if we want to have puppies or not, it is just a natural process. Thus, even if you kill us, we will still be there as a source of your grief, and our own grief as well, for street life is hard. Opt for adoption. There are so many animals yearning for care and love. Buying a pet from a breeder just feeds the ambition of people who profit off our lives and seek no other way of making a living.
Despite it all, there are people who truly care for us animals and strive to educate future generations about us. We are a part of nature and share our lives with humans. I have infinite gratitude for the fact that there are people like this, associations who protect us, people who rescue and support us out of their own pockets, and also those who can’t support us but allow us to live in peace when we seek food or a place to sleep.