Venezuelans struggling to feed their families during the country's deep economic crisis are increasingly abandoning dogs because they no longer can afford to care for them. Fred Katayama reports.
Thin dogs scavenging for food on the streets of Caracas, victims of Venezuela's recession. People struggling to feed their families are abandoning their pets, and animals are crowding makeshift shelters. Maria Arteaga looks after strays in this shelter she founded outside the capital. (SOUNDBITE) MARIA ARTEAGA, RESCUE WORKER (SPANISH) SAYING: "Some are abandoned because people can't keep them because they have no food. And they are also abandoned because people are leaving the country, and they can't take the animal with them." People hand over dogs to her shelter every few hours. Some pets even have pedigrees. Many people struggle to feed their dogs because pet food prices are skyrocketing. Dog food prices are nearly double that of the United States with a 44 pound bag costing about $50. Jose Contramaestre, who manages a pet store, says people can't afford to buy dog biscuits. (SOUNDBITE) JOSE CONTRAMAESTRE, PET STORE MANAGER (SPANISH) SAYING: "Actually, there are many people who come and when they see the prices, they are amazed and do not buy food because it exceeds the value of the minimum wage." The socialist government has pushed in the past to protect animal rights. But three years of recession and triple-digit inflation has put more dogs onto the streets, and pet sanctuaries are proliferating to try to accommodate them.