Street dogs in Chile: are they a problem?
When I go to a new place the first thing I like to do is walk around the streets, to explore and get lost in the city. When I first arrived in Santiago, Chile, and took a walk around the city centre, one of the first things I noticed was how many stray dogs there were. The phrase 'street dog' or 'stray dog' is used to describe a dog with no home, who lives on the streets.
On every corner there was a sleeping dog. At every traffic light there was a dog waiting to cross. By every shop there was a dog waiting for food. At first I was nervous as I thought they might be aggressive or unfriendly. However, I have been here for more than a year now and every stray dog I have seen has been passive, quiet and friendly.
The dogs are accepted and welcomed here in Chile. I have never seen a street dog being mistreated. In fact, they are often given food and water by the public. Some people even make jackets for the dogs or put out beds or kennels for them to sleep in.
The dogs do not have an easy life: they are often hungry, cold or injured. The government does not provide much care for these dogs.
Some people believe that the situation is getting out of control and that it is unacceptable to have so many dogs on the streets. The dogs can sometimes cause problems such as car accidents if they run into the road. There are an estimated 2.5 million stray dogs in Chile and the canine population is growing faster than the human population. Many Chileans think that all the stray dogs should be sterilised so that they cannot breed. Others think that the stray dog population should be culled (i.e. reducing the population by killing them).
The future of street dogs is uncertain but for now it looks like they are here to stay, with their population expanding year by year.