(Luperón, Dominican Republic)
Our experiences traveling (even in just small doses so far) have really been quite eye-opening. To say the least.
It turns out that a passion for travel and a love of animals can be somewhat of a recipe for heartache.
As soon as we stepped foot into the Dominican, we were overcome by an intense population of street dogs running loose in the city. They are drinking from the dirty gutters, many covered in fleas and mange, and almost all desperately seeking their next meal. The scope of the stray animal problem in parts of the developing world, like the Dominican Republic, is unimaginable by American standards. In countries often overcome by extreme poverty, people cannot always care for their pets as well as they would like. Overpopulation is rampant and the facilities to spay and neuter dogs are sparse at best. Governments struggle to pave roads or offer basic services to their citizens, much less have the resources to promote or fund spay and neuter programs.
It’s tough to witness first hand. Really tough.
Especially when you are such a huge animal lover like me and all of these sweet babies are the friendliest and most gentle souls you could imagine. If I could scoop up every street dog we’ve encountered and offer them a safe haven, I would. My sister seems to think we will definitely have at least one additional dog aboard s/v LAHO when we return. Lol. We shall see. If it were up to me, we’d literally have a boat load of animals packed up and headed back to the U.S. in search of loving forever homes.
Hell, just the other day I dumped a bag of Oliver’s treats in the street as we walked past the saddest looking dog I’ve ever seen in person. He was too scared and hungry to come close, so I literally scrambled for my ziploc of dog treats and quickly discarded the entire contents of the baggie while hurriedly walking the other direction as to not scare him even more. I was happy to turn and see him inhaling the treats I left, all the while knowing that my futile effort isn’t any sort of real solution.
But instead of pitying ^^these^^ dogs or ones just like them in your local community, why not help them? In any way you can. Adopt. Foster. Sponsor. Volunteer. Donate. Educate. Anything.
You get the idea.
Since we unfortunately can’t pack up all the street dogs in the DR (or any of the other spots we’ve visited) and sail them back home with us, we can at least try to help in other small ways. Last week, I volunteered to do some branding work for a fledgling dog rescue group in Luperón (>>here’s a first draft of the logo I designed, revisions are still in the works<<). They currently have 40+ dogs at a farm located on the outskirts of town and are rescuing more and more each day. A vet from Santo Domingo (the big city) comes to town twice a month to treat the ill or wounded dogs, and the group is feverishly working on finding ‘real’ homes for these animals so they can rescue even more.
Groups like ^^this^^ are a step in the right direction. And for that, I am thankful.
Remember…adopt. Don’t shop. There are so many wonderful animals in need of forever homes. :)))
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