Sleeping dog in Santiago Atitlan
It is not inherent in Guatemalan culture to take dogs for walks. One only sees gringos walking adopted dogs on leashes. Richard Morgan at Los Encuentros has two black Labradors. He pays two Guatemalan youngsters from the neighborhood to take his dogs for a daily walk. The children are not enthusiastic about carrying out this task, but as Richard pointed out, “They are desperate for money.”
Street dog in Panajachel
A person deeply concerned about animal welfare is Patricia “Patti” Mort, my surrogate landlady. Patti moved to Guatemala in the 1980’s. She used to own a popular boutique Casa Alegre on Calle Santander, but she sold it and now runs a hotel on the same street. Besides her business, Patti is involved with an organization called Mayan Families which she co-founded with Sharon Smart-Poage. The mission of this non-profit organization is to “provide assistance and opportunities to the indigenous people of Guatemala, in particular in the Lake Atitlan area, through education, community programs and construction. “ One of their community programs is the Animal Welfare Program which tackles the acute problem of canine overpopulation and negligence. Patti often patrols the streets on foot for dogs in desperate need of care and if needed, she picks them up with her Mazda pickup and takes them to a veterinarian hospital where they are treated and sterilized. I briefly visited Patti at the animal hospital where she volunteers regularly. We plan to talk more about the organization and explore the possibility of organizing internships for college students. To learn more about Patti’s organization and its achievements, please go to their website: www.mayanfamilies.org
Animal hospital where Patti volunteers
A mistreated dog they rescued. The dog still lives in the streets.