Chile Amends Law, Declares It's Open Season on Feral Dogs
Russia isn't the only place that's trying to handle the problem of stray dogs by killing as many as they can. This month, the government of Chile outraged animal rights activists when it amended the Ley de Caza (hunting law) to include feral dogs among the animals that can legally be hunted with a license, just like foxes or deer. The new law applies specifically to dogs in rural districts, and reads: "Wild or untamed dogs, found in packs, outside urban areas and urban sprawl, a distance of more than 1,300 feet from any populated or isolated rural housing, may be captured or hunted under the terms established under the law and these regulations."
The change in policy inspired 30 animal rights groups to immediately withdraw from a government coalition dedicated to finding solutions to the problem of feral dogs, including promotion of mass sterilization and responsible pet ownership.
Sen. Fulvio Rossi of the Socialist Party issued a press release declaring his support for animal activists, saying "Extermination and killing is not a solution to controlling the dog population. It is precisely the antithesis of promoting responsible pet ownership."
Feral dogs are a real problem for the country. Chile's land area is a little larger than that of Texas, but the president of the National Veterinarians Association, Alonso Parra, told a newspaper recently that there are more than 3 million feral dogs roaming the country. Other sources say that within the capital city of Santiago alone, feral dogs number about 215,000. Parra says that the dogs cost Chile about US$1 million per year in medical expenses because of attacks and disease.
The group Somos Mas Animales Como Ellos acknowledges the extent of the problem but says that there are more humane options, including sterilization and, when necessary, euthanization. Demonstrations against the new policy are planned for Tuesday in the cities of Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción, La Serena and Coquimbo.
Via Santiago Times