Written by Vytautas Vaitkevicius.
Vytautas is a passionate freelance writer, traveler, and nature lover. During his travels, he met countless stray dogs and volunteered in an animal shelter, inspiring him to write more about animals.
From the first moments in Latin America, I realized that I would meet animals more often than ever.
Unfortunately, not in a good way, as I was coming across dozens of stray dogs almost every day.
Since those first moments, I searched for ways to help these dogs and ended up volunteering in an animal shelter in Colombia.
But there are more ways to help!
And I invite you to discover those ways, be inspired by them, and eventually take action when the time is right. Let’s see them!
Before We Start: My Story
According to various reports, the sweetest head scratch in the Earth’s history happened somewhere in the streets of Guatemala!
Yes, I’m kidding and not kidding at the same time.
Once I saw this beautiful husky-type dog on the streets, my heart cracked a little.
His paws and fur were dirty with dried blood patches. He also seemed to have many fleas.
I sat near him and quickly realized he’s one of the friendliest and sweetst streets dogs I have ever seen!
And it wasn’t long before I started thinking about taking him with me.
However, I wasn’t brave enough to do so due to various inconveniences and lack of finances (I was traveling on my tiny savings without any income).
To this day, I wonder how he’s doing and how my life would have been different if I decided to take him with me!
Volunteer in an Animal Shelter
According to the Veterinary’s World Review Article, out of 500 million dogs globally, around 75% are stray!
In Latin America, the exact numbers are hard to trace, and statistics are scarce.
But indeed, there are at least 50 million strays on the continent!
Wow, the numbers are truly staggering, but it usually doesn’t seem like hundreds of millions of dogs are roaming freely when you travel.
That’s because many of them are constantly brought into shelters.
One of the best ways to help stray dogs is to be away from the streets and sign up for volunteering in an animal shelter.
Here are 3 good reasons.
Make Dogs Healthier
Stray dogs come in rough conditions from the streets.
Wounded, dirty, and unhealthy – streets dogs can be fixed in a shelter.
A healthy dog has much more chance to get adopted.
Resurrect Their Enthusiasm
You will rarely see a happy and active stray dog.
Most people want to adopt an animal that is playful, loving, and social.
And by simply interacting and playing with strays at the shelter, you can resurrect their enthusiasm and improve their social skills.
Inspire Yourself & Others
Only by having enough workforce can shelter accommodate and take care of street dogs.
Be that helping hand and tell your friends about it.
Inspire others to join the cause – even if it’s only for a couple of weeks.
Donate & Contribute
Like it or not, it’s all about money in this world.
And that is especially true for all animal shelters as they rely on donations, whether they are in the form of food, items, or cash.
There are a lot of great organizations that contribute to the cause. Some are less known and rely on locals, while others can be reached online.
Working hard in your daily job or developing your own business together with a compassionate mindset can be a way to help stray dogs in Latin America.
Donate and contribute a part of your earnings to a trustworthy organization. Or buy a lot of delicious treats and take them to the shelter yourself!
Globalstrays are a perfect example of where your hard-earned money could go – to an organization that has laid out its goals and results as clearly as possible.
Take the Dog to The Vet!
If you can’t fully commit to adopting a stray dog, you can still make a difference in a dog’s life and make him healthier and happier.
If you’re staying in one area for quite some time, and keep coming across the same dogs, then befriend them and see if you could take them to the local vet and even a dog SPA if there is one in the area!
Getting a dog vaccinated can prevent him from catching many diseases, including rabies, flu, and many more.
If there’s a possibility, you could treat the dog to a well-deserved bath and good quality food.
Raise Awareness & Spread the Word
We can’t save all the dogs, and we can’t help them all.
But we all do have constant access to the internet.
And while not everyone in Latin America has a stable internet, all travelers and most locals do.
Maybe you recently donated 20kg of food to your local shelter?
Or perhaps you adopted a dog or are simply passionate about this topic?
Then you definitely can raise awareness!
Whether it’s a blog, video content, local newspaper, storytelling to your friends, or social media – don’t hesitate to spread the word and talk from the heart.
Adopt a Dog from Shelter
Would you like to adopt a dog from shelter? Remember, dogs that have spent a lot of time on the streets might be unsocialized and aggressive or shy on top of that.
Adoption is not an easy way, especially if you want to adopt a possibly shy dog while you’re abroad.
But it is doable!
Before you step into this process, you’ll have to consider these things carefully:
- Your finances while traveling & back home ( vet, medical, food, and care)
- If you’re able to sacrifice some of your travel leisures & experiences.
You’ll then will have to go through another process; this time, it’s all action:
- Please spend some time to know the dog, and see how it behaves around you. (don’t worry, dogs can understand you!)
- Take the dog for the medical checkup, if that has not been done yet.
- Treat the dog with SPA and cleaning procedures.
- Get a high-quality leash, proper documentation, and you’re ready to take him home
Many people don’t consider a stray dog’s life significant enough, especially if it’s an older dog.
But adopting a street dog before fear, diseases, and violence takes over the dog is the most beautiful thing you can do.
The whole of Latin America already suffers from a lot of other issues. The stray dog situation is not helping them at all.
This study is one of the examples of how stray dogs contribute to local contamination, which is one of many problems caused by a large population of street dogs.
Why not contribute to both causes – help homeless dogs and improve the life quality of the locals?
See what you can do. Good luck!
Photos by Vytautas Vaitkevicius.