Street sanitation issues pose a multitude of obvious direct and indirect health concerns in Peru. The citizens and the city itself suffer greatly in these conditions. It is obvious, too, that street animals suffer greatly, even as they contribute to the worsening problems.
Cultural and social norms and economic conditions do not excuse a lack of action. Taken one issue at a time, it is conceivable that each of these health concerns can be improved or even solved, with or without strong political support. Of course, political support could help pave the way.
A growing number of citizens have begun to recognize this, as has Bruno Antoine, a Frenchman and Amazon Cares volunteer who has lived in Iquitos for more than a year. Antoine states, "Municipalities have never been motivated to try humane or even effective solutions ... Instead, they organized mass slaughter of these animals right in the streets, with little regard for the considerable impact on physical and emotional health."
Since 2004, the charity organization, Amazon CARES, has been battling the problem through vaccination and sterilization campaigns in areas of limited resources. Recently, 200 animals were sterilized in Requena, but this is only a drop in the bucket. The problem encompasses the large city of Iquitos as well as the river zones.
For the sake of the health of animals as well as humans, Antonie believes that the solution lies in treating the heart of the problem, through vaccination and sterilization. Success in this endeavor requires public awareness as well as the city’s compliance with its own law, N27596, which regulates the legal jurisdiction of dogs, forcing the city to pick up strays and place them in shelters or in pounds.
Amazon CARES constantly seeks partnership with authorities, bringing its experience, team of veterinarians, economist and expertly-designed plans to the table. "Since February, each community has been invited to join in discussing a solution based on partnership, but only the cities of Belen and Maynas appear interested, and even they have yet to sign any agreements," Antoine added.
Trusting the sound judgment of those in charge of framing the legal and political structure needed to make deep and lasting changes, Amazon Cares continues to strive for the well-being of both the animal and human populations, without forgetting its role in educating citizens, local, state and federal officials.
Through speaking at schools in the city, Amazon CARES is planting the seed for a more conscientious future that includes conservation, respect for life, and other challenges in the environment. Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Through today’s efforts, we will one day find that we, too, have become a great nation.