This is an update on an article I wrote about Venezuelans eating cats and dogs to survive. I wrote the article in 2017. I wanted to find out whether there have been changes. There has been little change except, perhaps, it’s got worse. The title to this article pretty well sums up the dire state of affairs for cat and dog owners in Venezuela. It’s impossible for the average citizen of this country to maintain their pets and therefore they abandon them. When abandoned they are there for the taking by commercial enterprises who sell cat and dog meat.
The Euronews.com website states that some vendors “have heads and other dog parts on display”. Some shopkeepers and stall keepers sell meat but they don’t explain what sort of meat it is. The public just know that it is cheap and they don’t ask questions about the origin. Zoo animals are also vulnerable to being eaten because in 2017 the authorities investigated the theft of animals from a zoo in the western state of Zulia.
An animal rescue non-profit, Voluntarios Proteccionistas, believes that there are more than 3 million stray dogs roaming the streets of Venezuela. How many cats? Probably a similar number but slightly lower as dogs appear to be more popular than cats in this country. A major problem is hyperinflation as reported in January 2019. This is due to government mismanagement led by the Venezuelan Pres Nicolas Maduro. Prices were and probably are still doubling every 19 days.
In June 2018 a cup of coffee doubled in a single week. At the time, the IMF expected hyperinflation to hit 10 million percent in 2019. Among this disaster and animal abuse there are people who are rescuing cats. One such man is Javier Reinoso. He said that: “Amid this nightmare, our cats are the only thing saving us”. It is an interesting statement. Does he mean that cats are saving Venezuelans because they’re eating them or does he mean that the cats are saving them because they provide some sanity and company during this economically catastrophic meltdow? Of course, he means the latter. But you would be forgiven for believing that he meant the former when bearing in mind the news coming out of this country.
He said: “Our cats are the only reason we have to keep going day after day. And there’s not a single day they don’t warm our hearts and make us smile despite all the hardships and indignities around us.”
He believes that animals “are angels of purity and innocence everywhere. They are exactly the same in Venezuela as they are in Switzerland, and deserve to be loved and protected equally all around the globe. Animals don’t deserve to pay for the errors of humans.”
Of course, he is absolutely correct. However, when humans are desperate to survive, when it comes down to putting food in their mouths, they will resort to anything, and understandably so. This includes eating pets which is a horrible thought. The ‘unwritten contract’, as Dr Desmond Morris calls it, it between companion animals and humans does not include the agreement, by these animals, to be killed and eaten by their human caretakers. That is not part of the deal.
Javier Reinoso’s family moved to a house with a big backyard in a poor neighbourhood in order to have their cats with them. They have been feeding two colonies of friendly stray cats in different parts of Valencia in the Carabobo region. He is a beacon of light and hope in this hell. And it is cats which keep him going.
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