The stray-dog problem in Mexico City is getting much-needed attention after the horrific events at a Mexico City park called Cerro de la Estrella during the past two weeks. On Dec. 29, police found the bodies of a 26-year-old woman and a 1-year-old child. Then, on Jan. 5, they found the bodies of Alejandra Ruiz, 15, and her boyfriend Samuel Martinez, 16.
All were dead from blood loss, and autopsies revealed that dog bites were to blame. Mexico City prosecutors said that at least 10 dogs were involved in each attack, according to the Associated Press. More than 100 officers searched the park and rounded up all the dogs they found. By Monday, they had 25 -- 10 males, eight females, and seven puppies.
After a newspaper published photos of the dogs -- a collection of skinny strays of various types -- an online campaign erupted, maintaining the dogs' innocence. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, bowing to pressure -- a large part coming from Twitter -- said authorities would not immediately euthanize the dogs, as had been speculated. Experts are testing the dogs' hair for traces of blood, as well as the contents of their stomachs, to make sure they have the right dogs.
"We're not taking any decision. The dogs are in a shelter and we have to check on the health," he said at a press conference.
You can see a photo of the dogs here.
The mayor also said he was launching new spay and neuter programs for the stray dogs who wander the city, as well as sending 25 mobile surgical units into neighborhoods to offer free spay and neuter surgeries.
Antemio Maya, president of the Street Dog Protection Association, says there are between 1.2 million and 3 million dogs in the city. He says many owners simply let their pets wander the city during the day, and that they treat dogs as "disposable," things to be bought for Christmas then left in a park when the responsibility becomes too great.
"A lot of people get tired of their dogs and they simply throw them on the streets," he said, according to the AP. "This is going to create a terrible hate for street dogs, and that's going to lead to even more abuse."
He also disputed the police's version of the events.
"It's not the behaviour of street dogs to kill humans," he said. "The authorities trapped Beagles, Maltese, Poodles; can you imagine how long it would take for them to kill a person?"
The Mexico City public safety secretary, Jesus Rodriguez, maintains that dogs killed the people, saying that the people were not killed elsewhere and then their bodies dumped in the park, as some have theorized. He also said some of the bite wounds were inflicted when the victims were alive, which points to an attack. Which dogs did the attacking, however, has yet to be determined.