Oaxaca de Juárez.— Matlazihua overflows with joy when someone touches her. Wag her tail and jump with pleasure. After gaining confidence, she pulls on her belly and lets the humans pet her and her four cubs. It is the second litter she has in less than five months. Alone, in the street.
Like this mestizo dog, dozens of publications on social networks report the abandonment or seeking for adoptions for dogs in a street situation that roam the capital of Oaxaca and its colonies.
Only in Oaxaca de Juárez is estimated that there are up to 100,000 dogs and cats in the street, plus the population of the surrounding municipalities, according to calculations by the Red de Animalistas Unidos A.C.
Danielle Iturbide Quiroz, representative of this network and who for several years has dedicated part of her time to help, rescue, and promote the responsible care of animals, explains that dogs in the street are only the tip of the iceberg of the reproduction of canines and felines, without control.
Danielle points out that the animal population that lives on the streets can,t be calculated with precision, since there is also no certainty of how many dogs and cats there are in the homes, so the dimension of the problem can only be calculated through some estimates.
According to the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI), in Mexico, 57 out of 100 Mexicans have a pet, but only 30% of domestic animals in the country have a home and 70%, about 25 million animals, live in a street situation.
For Danielle, the only measure to solve this public health problem is sterilization. According to the calculation of animal owners, to stop the reproduction of these 100,000 dogs and cats living on the streets that live in the state capital, it is necessary to sterilize at least 10,000 per year, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, during the administration of Oswaldo García Jarquín, the current governor, no sterilization campaigns have been carried out.
The activist denounces that, in addition to being insufficient, they are made with 12-centimeter incisions, instead of using fast and effective methods, and fees of 179 pesos are charged for sterilization, instead of being offered free of charge, as promised by the mayor when he was campaigning.
For all this, she explains that the municipality’s actions to curb the overpopulation of animals are “remarkably insufficient” since female dogs such as Matlazihua have from one to 12 puppies per litter.
“To achieve population impact and for the animals in the street to be adopted by the community, it is required that all of them be gradually sterilized,” she says.
For this reason, people who rescue dogs or cats in a street situation are recommended that when they receive them for adoption the animal is already sterilized, a procedure that is not dangerous and that can be practiced from three months of age.
“The only method to prevent the population of dogs and cats from growing, in addition to animal abuse, is sterilization, which must be: effective, economic, ethical, massive, systematic and early,” says the activist.
To contain the proliferation of dogs on the streets, animal workers constantly undertake low-cost sterilization campaigns and inform the community of the advantages of surgeries under the quick spay method, which is minimally invasive and for which fees are only charged to cover the medical expenses and salaries of those who practice them.
Per day of sterilization, this procedure is practiced on up to 300 dogs and cats. “We have had a very good response and also, while we work, we educate the people who come, we explain them about the procedure and why it is so important to do it,” she adds.
After two litters in a row, Matlazihua’s cubs were given up for adoption and she was sterilized by the family that took her in after giving birth. Now Mat has a home.