This picture of ancient Mayan dogs is our logo.
The story begins when we first set eyes on San Cristobal de las Casas.
The mountains take your breath away (literally and figuratively the city is located at 2,200m=7,200ft). The hillsides are dotted with shanties and untouched lushness. The rainwater (from far off places) runs the shortest distance downhill inevitably crossing the paths of indigenous women who want to bathe and wash their clothes. The temperate climate is beautiful all year and the city has all the amenities with a population of 120,000 inhabitants.
What wasn't was seeing the emaciated, ravaged, dying, dead, timid beasts with Mange, Distemper and other contagious (and preventable) diseases. On every block around every corner, there they were. They had taken over the streets.
Hard to read about huh!? Imagine having to experience it every.single.day.
The general population was terrified to death; not so much by the dogs but as to where their next meal was coming. You can hardly blame them for not worrying about the dogs. Besides, the culture is such that you let your dog out into the street in the morning and if they come home at night, it's all good. If not, it's time to get another dog.
Canine overpopulation is a serious issue. People believe that breeding is the next "get rich" scheme. The problem is that no one has any cash and everyone has 3,497 dogs to sell. Sterilization isn't cost effective as it's equal to a 1/2 months wages. Only the fools and the rich pay for dogs. Everyone else just gets one from a friend or steals one off the street. The cost, Free. Seeing as they pay nothing, they value it as such.
It's only been within the past few years that the culture has shifted slightly to encourage people to give and/or purchase food for their dogs. In addition, the current Mayor has been coming down hard on street dogs and unleashing his Dog Catcher on them. Any dog without an owner and not leashed is fair game. Note that all street dogs technically have owners. The few that don't, don't last very long...
I found 8-week old Juan in the gutter, he had Distemper and had to be put down.
The good news is that if your dog doesn't come home, you have a pretty good idea where it is. Bad news is that it will cost you more than the dog is worth to get it back (the pound charges a $15US
tequila administration fee).
The horrifying news is that life in the pound (if even for 15 minutes) is not good. Death, even worse. The term humane has nothing to do with it.
If we were going to make a difference, we had our hands full.
Note 1: The name "Tzi'te" comes from the language Tzotil (one of eight languages spoken in Chiapas) and literally translated means "House of" (Tzi) the "Dog" (te).
Note 2: I use the term "humane society" to imply a sense of action and not because we are associated with them.
Besos, The Zoo