On this last visit to Puerto Natales I felt like we reached a major milestone. We have been working with the community members on this project together with IFAW for a full year and for many it has been so new and frankly, intangible. For those of you who are not clear on what we’re doing- let me explain. The issue of street dogs is so complex, multi-factorial and widespread, particularly in developing countries. It
has been like this for many, many years, decades in fact. As the population of people grows, so does the population of dogs, so over time the problem gets worse and grows more noticeable and reaches a point where the community is screaming for a solution. The problem however, is that there is no single solution, no recipe to follow to resolve this issue that grows more pressing with each day. Think about this: we know that mass killing of dogs is unacceptable and does nothing to solve the issue long term.
So what do you do with thousands of dogs with owners that live in the street?
How do you feel about kennels? Have you been to one?
What about a kennel in a developing country where resources are scarce and dogs are not vaccinated, there is no veterinarian on staff and buying food and supplies is a constant issue?
How would this become more complicated in a country like Chile where humane euthanasia is illegal?
What about aggressive dogs with a history of attacking people, and no-one with the expertise, knowledge or the facilities to house and rehabilitate dogs like this?
These are the questions without answers that managers and communities face in Latin America. It took many years to arrive where we are today, with so many people and so many dogs. Yet people want a solution that will give results tomorrow. In Puerto Natales, we are trying something new. Using a series of innovative and participatory workshops designed by IFAW and offered to the community by the IFAW/GAAP facilitators, we have walked a group of stakeholders through a year of critical thinking, planning and designing a plan made by the community, for the community. Now we are starting the second year which is going to be completely focused on implementing the plan. I have to admit, that there have been times throughout this long process, when I have wondered if we would get this far. There isn’t any place in the world, where it is easy to work with such a diverse group of people, from government authorities to business owners to citizens of the community, and to keep
the momentum going strong for an entire year, and actually come up with a solid product at the end of it. In Puerto Natales, despite the fact that working in groups is not something that is taught or encouraged in Chile, this unique group of people have done just this. I am so proud and honored to be part of this group, and learn from them as we walk through a novel process, paving the way for other communities in the same situation. I hope you share my enthusiasm and support for this amazing group of people as they embark on year two. Stay tuned as we keep you updated on their progress!!