When we first moved here the stray dogs roaming around Cuenca was a bit disconcerting. There were hungry, sickly dogs roaming around everywhere! We felt sorry for the weak, scruffy dogs, but we were also fearful they might attack! Luckily, this has not been the case. In fact, most of the stray dogs in Cuenca are gentle and timid of people.
They mostly roam the streets looking for garbage to eat and sometimes they get thrown some stale bread or old white rice from an Ecuadorian restaurant owner, but these dogs are mostly vitamin deficient and weak. Some of the dogs wobble around on only three legs, while others limp around because they got hit by a car.
Where Have the Dogs Gone?
We have noticed a BIG change in the amount of roaming dogs on the streets here in Cuenca. We remarked about seeing less roaming dogs to one expat lady and she told us there is an expat volunteer program working with a rescue and protection operation called ARCA. Together they are working steadily to pick up stray animals that have been living miserably on the streets of Cuenca.
UPDATE: January 2014 - For about a year it seemed as if there were less dogs on the streets, but now it seems like there is just as many, or more than before. We know it is difficult to keep the stray dog population down and it's a huge job!
ARCA is a veterinarian clinic and rescue company in Cuenca that offers low cost treatment for animals; it houses and feeds hundreds of dogs and cats and offers low cost to free spays and neuters to the animals. We have heard they have hundreds of dogs and numerous cats waiting to be adopted into caring homes.
Many of the dogs they rescue are sickly and in need a lot of TLC. After nursing the animals back to health they are put up for adoption into loving homes here in Cuenca. Here is the website for ARCA but unfortunately it is only in Spanish. http://fundacionarca.com/ Try putting it into Google Translate; it does not translate efficiently but it is better than nothing.
Should you bring your pets to Cuenca with you?
If you’re a pet lover and leaving your dog or cat with friends in the US, perhaps you would think about adopting one of these rescued dogs or cats and provide them with a caring home and family. Each new expat that moves to Cuenca and adopts one animal, if they so choose, would be giving these animals the loving homes they deserve.
In the US it is so very easy to find loving homes for the pets we already have, but here in Ecuador, it is a bit more difficult. The Ecuadorians that have pets have the extra income to feed them nutritionally sound meals and provide a loving home. But many Ecuadorians can’t afford to feed a dog or cat and take care of the upkeep of owning a pet.
BTW…dog and cat food is VERY expensive here. The brands you know and love, and that are the most nutritious cost three to five times more here. One expat lady, who has three cats of her own, told us that one small can of Friskies wet food costs $2. And there aren't any alternatives. So if you have multiple pets you can be spending well over $100 a month on pet food.
On another note, we have noticed that a lot of the foreigners want to rent furnished and with a
yard for their pets, which is almost impossible to find. And when you
find it, the landlords don't want pets!! It is much easier to find, if you own a pet to rent unfurnished. We'll talk more about that in another article.
Anyway, the working Ecuadorians can eat a whole meal on $1.50, plus have $0.50 cents left over to buy a humita or plantain with cheese later on in the day. And this is the point. It is not in the budget for most Ecuadorians to own even one dog or cat. Not only that, but the up-keep for the animal is not in the budget either. And this is the reason why many animals don’t have a loving Ecuadorian home to go to. This is where you come in.
We’re happy there are so many volunteers that are ambitious to this cause and being proactive about helping these poor animals… and we can bet the animals are also happy! Thank you ARCA and all of its faithful volunteers for a job well done. Keep up all the wonderful work!
ARCA Foundation - http://fundacionarca.com/