Those eyes. Black pools of liquid emotion, somehow devoid of hope and full of it in the same moment. Will you be my human?
As travelers, we experience the reality of homeless animals more than most – and there’s nothing quite so soul shattering as gazing into the eyes of a stray. The raw, undiluted compassion that claws at your gut and haunts you for days.
Exploring cobbled alleyways and narrow dusty streets, your eyes meet and part from hundreds of mangy, desperate faces. For a split second you consider sweeping them up in your arms – but something keeps you walking.
It’s a form of existential reality, like the difference between Skyping your family and actually being with them. You limit your awareness to two senses, hearing and seeing. You connect to their struggle but are not engaged fully or participating in the scene.
Overpopulation rates are rising
According to Dosomething.org, homeless animals outnumber people 5 to 1; a fact that leaves us living side-by-side with our ill-fated friends. The streets of Guatemala and other third world nations are home to thousands of heartbreaking strays that wander aimlessly, spreading disease and piercing your heart with their stoic dejection.
Unfortunately, with so many animals wandering around un-spayed or neutered, the problem is only getting worse. In six years, one female and male dog and their offspring can produce up to 67,000 puppies.
Seasoned travelers know these scenes all too well. We have trained ourselves to tear our gazes away, a defense mechanism to keep our feeble psyches from overloading on the brutal and capacious truth:
Facts & Statistics
- Only one out of every 10 dogs born worldwide will find a permanent home.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are more than 200 million stray dogs suffering across the globe.
- According to the Humane Society, 2.7 million animals are euthanized each year because they do not get adopted.
- 6 million dogs and countless cats are murdered for meat in South Korea every year.
- In Bali alone, the number of stray dogs is estimated at 500,000 and a rabies epidemic underway since 2008 has already killed 78 people.
- 5 attacks by strays in Baghdad have led to the reinstitution of an aggressing eradication program. It’s goal: Killing over one million stray dogs.
International Homeless Animals Day
In light of International Homeless Animals day this August 16th, the International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR) and Mayan Families urges you to take action. We will be holding a spay and neuter clinic in recognition of the day and we hope to spay or neuter 10 stray animals.
Together, organizations, friends, and travelers around the world can lift this wretched veil of unaccountability and make a difference, one liquid gaze at a time.
In honor of our furry friends, wear orange this Saturday and share your greatest, quirkiest pet stories with everyone you know. Orange is the color of animal protection awareness and awareness is the key to making a change.