Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with a high school sociology class in Illinois. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Spring 2 program.
One of the first things you might notice upon arriving in Chile is the abundance of stray dogs. There are so many here that there is even a Chilean slang word for them—quiltro. The street dogs are rarely put to sleep and almost never spayed or neutered. At first, I had a hard time deciding whether or not I liked seeing them all in the street. It made me so happy to see the dogs every day, but I wasn’t sure how good of lives they had without a real home. Then that fateful day came when I saw one get utterly slaughtered by a car. I was heartbroken.
But wait, while this made me incredibly sad, I knew I needed to do something. I found out there are around 100 animal shelters in the Valpo area. Before my second semester here I contacted an organization called PAEC Organización No Gubernamental, a dog shelter in Valparaíso, to ask about volunteering. This organization cares for, houses, and finds homes for almost 20 dogs at a time. I have been going every Wednesday and brought my camera along so I could share some of my new friends with all of you!