Just outside of Valdivia, a farmer’s flock of sheep were chased down and killed, presumably by dogs. This is a very significant loss for smallholder families living in very basic conditions with no hot water, no vehicle, using oxen for work and transport, relying heavily on their livestock for income.
A day later, two dogs were photographed feeding on the carcasses. The owners were hoping to get proof of the culprits, and ask for compensation from the dog owners. With all the free-roaming dogs (FRD) in Chile this is not an abnormal occurrence, except for one thing, the dogs are our clients. We have been caring for these dogs for about 3 years, owned by another very modest family; they are both two of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet. One is a small shepherd cross and the other is a Rottweiler cross.
As for most people here in Chile, dogs are not confined and are free to roam as they please. The owner of these particular dogs is convinced that his dogs would never do something like this, but he has no proof either way, nor does th
e sheep owner, except that they were both feeding on the dead sheep. How did the dogs know there were dead sheep there? And what were they doing in the farmer’s field anyway? It’s easy to say that your dogs would never do something like this, but do you know 100% for sure what your dogs would do if they were loose all day with no supervision?
This is why most of the GAAP’s programs are founded in education of dog owners, rather than only focusing on sterilization of dogs. We are asking owners to change the way they care for their dogs and the way they think of dog ownership. We promote dog containment to prevent stories just like this one from happening. It is also important to teach owners about animal welfare and responsible ownership so that dogs are not neglected and forgotten in their backyards.
Changing the way people think about their dogs and how dogs affect their lives and the lives and livelihoods of others is a cornerstone to making a lasting difference in the free roaming dog problem in Chile!