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Dogs in a perfect world

“In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog.”

When travelling to a new place, one way to get an instant read on a community is to observe the condition of the local cats and dogs. We were pleased to see that the local dog and cat population in Placencia is generally very healthy, well fed, and surprisingly many of them neutered.

Talking to a local resident revealed that this was not always the case here. He and his partner who is a vet have been very active with the local humane society and a veterinary surgeon from Belize City (who volunteers his services) to ensure the local domesticated animal population is as healthy as it is.

The resident we spoke to said this is not the case for all of Belize. Apparently in Punta Gorda the local animals don’t fare as well as their neighbours to the North. To be fair this is probably also true of the residents as it is a much poorer area of Belize.

In some parts of the world cats and dogs barley exist, they live miserable lives, fending for themselves, they barely eat, and are host to horrible pests and debilitating disease. For instance on a prior trip to Tobago we were shocked by the condition of the local dog population. None of the dogs appeared to be owned let alone spayed or neutered. Besides being generally under nourished the large population of stray dogs were infested with mange.

You have all heard the saying “Mangy Mutt”, but this saying does not hold much meaning if you have never witnessed the horrific effects of this disease on an animal. Mange is a skin disease caused by parasitic mites. These mites embed themselves either in skin or hair follicles of the animal. The result is disturbing, especially if untreated.

Localized mange occurs in one or two small, confined area, resulting in isolated scaly bald patches causing a spotted appearance. In bad cases generalized mange can affect a dog’s entire body. Secondary bacterial infections often results with a dog with very itchy and often horrible smelling skin. To see a dog that is ravished with mange is heart breaking.


Younger dogs often recover fully from mange with medication, but adult dogs often require long-term therapy to control the disease. Sadly the willpower and the means to provide this help is often non-existent. The reality is mange ravishes the local dog population in places where the human population is generally very poor themselves.

As an outsider I can’t help but think “how you do anything is how you do everything”, or how you treat others including other species, is a reflection on the value you place on life!

However before reserving judgement one must keep in mind:

”In the desert, an old monk had once advised a traveler, the voices of God and the Devil are scarcely distinguishable”. Loren Eisely

Thank you and all  credit to those who volunteer their time and money to make the world a bit more perfect even if it is one dog at a time.



About the author: Apparently born under a wandering star, Michael spent hours as a kid poring over maps, atlases and plotting where he wanted to travel when he grew up. Sadly Engineering school got in the way….. “it takes 5 years to complete and a lot longer to get over”. He still considers himself a “recovering” Professional Engineer. He escaped the rat race at 44 and now pursues his passions for travel, photography, Tai chi, scuba diving, cooking and sampling the world’s wines. Michael is also… Fiercely independent, a bit of a rebel, is on a self-imposed media diet & married to an incredible lady.

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