¡pobres perritos!

puppy marketEvery Saturday there’s an animal market along the railroad tracks in Cusco.  We pass right by it while walking from our apartment into town.  The wide selection of puppies at very cheap prices is the market’s main attraction.  It’s hard to say for sure where the puppies come from, though judging by the number of recently pregnant stray dogs roaming around at any given time, I suspect a good number of them are stolen from the streets.  The vendors swear the pups have had their medications, though at these prices I have my doubts, especially since they’ll tell you just about anything to make a sale. 

As we strolled along the railroad tracks one little girl not more than 10 or 11 years old pushed an adorable little puppy into my arms.  “Tres soles,” she asked – about the equivalent of $1.00 – “tres soles,” she repeated as the little pup snuggled into my arms.  Looking down at its helpless little face I knew the chances of him finding a loving home were slim.  More likely, he would be someone’s inexpensive accessory for a few months until they tired of him and threw him out on the street to fend for himself alongside all the others.  (If you look closely you can see the little girl in the picture above.  She’s toward the center, in mustard colored pants, a sleeveless white shirt and holding a small white pup.) 

Stray dogs are a major problem here in Cusco and in cities and towns throughout Latin America.  One morning we counted fourteen of them on our street alone.  They don’t bother you except to beg for food, and it’s tough not to feel really bad for them.  Unfortunately, there are no laws in place to control the problem and no one really seems bothered by it.  In fact, some people here will argue that the dogs are happier having the freedom to roam around.  But having observed so many hungry, injured and diseased animals I can’t say that I agree with that opinion at all.  Watching people bargaining in the market that day left little doubt in my mind that many of these poor puppies will end up right back out on the street in a few months.

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