A recent article in USA Today provides a heartbreaking look at what happens to family pets in times of extreme financial hardship. Venezuela’s economic crisis has resulted in a skyrocketing number of homeless and abandoned pets, because their owners are no longer able to afford even basic necessities like pet food.
Animal advocates in Venezuela report that record numbers of household pets are being left to their own devices to scavenge for food in the city streets…including many purebred dogs like Golden Retrievers. The dire economic situation in Venezuela means that food for people is becoming scarce, let alone commercial pet food.
Sadly, abandoned pets in and around major cities like Caracas are starving to death, being hit by cars, and even being captured by people to be eaten as food. Much of Venezuela’s food supply is imported, including pet food and pet food ingredients. Animal advocates report that a 40 lb. bag of Purina Dog Chow costs three times the country’s monthly minimum wage. 6 lbs. of cat food is equal to one month’s minimum wage. Families reluctant to give up their pets are feeding them what they can, like table scraps and vegetable peelings.
Additionally, USA Today reports that along with shortages of human medicines, Venezuela is also experiencing shortages of medicines and vaccines for dogs and cats, resulting in diseases like distemper. Venezuelan animal welfare organizations note that donations have fallen sharply due to the financial crisis.
To respond to this growing crisis of homeless pets, the Venezuelan government created a program called Mission Nevado, which encourages people to take in abandoned pets. The program tries to provide services like spay/neuter and vaccinations, but unfortunately the worsening financial situation is making this harder to do.
If you’re interested in finding out how you can help homeless animals in Venezuela, you can check out rescue groups like Fundacion Animalia for more information.