Animal rights activists in Latin America are struggling to house and feed animals abandoned by their owners. Dogs and cats are being left on the streets with no food or water.
Owners abandon their pets because they are misinformed and think their pets will infect them with the coronavirus. Some also leave them because they have no money to feed them anymore.
Latin American governments have moved aggressively to contain the virus by closing borders and imposing quarantines.
Animal advocates in Colombia say the 19-day national quarantine that started in March is sparking pet desertions.
“Due to fake news and panic caused by misinformation, there are people who are abandoning their pets,” said Andrea Padilla, who was elected as the councilor for animal rights in Bogota.
Padilla said she is responding to more than 150 WhatsApp messages a day. Before the coronavirus crisis, it was 80 messages. Requests for animal food and reports of abandonment have doubled during the quarantine, she added.
Blanca Rodriguez, who runs an animal shelter in the city’s Usme neighborhood, is now caring for two dozen cats and up to 60 dogs after taking in an additional ten animals since the quarantine began.
Stray animals in Bolivia
In Bolivia, Sergio Flores, who owns an animal shelter just outside of La Paz, says the quarantine is bringing “animals from all over the place.”
Animal advocates are now taking to the streets to feed strays that generally depend on leftovers from restaurants and people, said Maria Luz Menacho, an animal rescuer in La Paz.
“If we don’t come to look after them, to feed them, give them water and make sure they are ok, nobody else is going to do it,” she said.