Dog’s chance for sub­way strays

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MEX­ICO CITY, Mex­ico — They found Ja­mai wan­der­ing on the tracks of the Mex­ico City sub­way, his ear nearly torn off and a ter­ri­fied look in his eyes.

The shaggy brown mutt could have been run over or elec­tro­cuted. In­stead, he was res­cued and taken to a new shel­ter for lucky dogs like him saved from the bow­els of one of the world’s largest sub­way sys­tems.

The Mex­i­can cap­i­tal is a dog’s par­adise, with sprawl­ing dog parks, hordes of dog walk­ers, doggy gyms and restau­rants that keep food and wa­ter bowls out­side for dogs.

But for un­lucky pooches who get lost in the un­der­ground labyrinth of the metro, this city of more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple is a per­ilous place.

Ja­mai was found on the city’s east side, near Ja­maica sta­tion — hence his name.

Now, tail wag­ging fu­ri­ously, he jumps, runs and plays with other dogs at the sub­way’s Ca­nine Trans­fer Cen­ter, a shel­ter launched six months ago and of­fi­cially in­au­gu­rated last week at a spa­cious, grassy com­plex in the mid­dle of the city .

His new friends in­clude Panty, res­cued at Pan­ti­t­lan sta­tion, and Torny, saved from the re­volv­ing in­ferno of a sub­way turn­stile (or “torni­quete”), who is the proud new mom of eight pup­pies.

Staffed by a vet­eri­nar­ian and other spe­cial­ists and funded mainly by pri­vate do­na­tions, the Ca­nine Trans­fer Cen­ter has res­cued some 20 dogs so far.

“It’s not the per­fect solu- tion, it’s not a panacea,” said the head of the sub­way’s Civil Pro­tec­tion unit, Edgar Al­fredo Abarca, who has also res­cued snakes, igua­nas and even a fam­ily of seven pos­sums from the sub­way.

But “it’s bet­ter than see­ing them run over or elec­tro­cuted,” he said.

The Mex­ico City sub­way is one of the big­gest in the world, with 12 lines, 195 sta­tions and more than 1.6 bil­lion pas­sen­gers a year.

Since 2013, more than 250 lost dogs have been found in­side.

Be­fore the cen­ter opened, the tran­sit au­thor­ity would send them to an­i­mal shel­ters.

Now, they have a place all their own, with spa­cious cages, a large play area and spe­cial­ist care.

The cen­ter aims to re­unite lost dogs with their own­ers when pos­si­ble.

It can al­ready boast one suc­cess story: Sira the beagle, who ran away from home and spent 10 days in the sub­way tun­nels be­fore a con­duc­tor spot­ted her on the tracks and ground to a screech­ing halt.

A lo­cal TV chan­nel aired a story about Sira, which is how her owner, Su­sana Lopez, learned she had been res­cued by the cen­ter.

“We were so sad un­til we found out she was here,” Lopez said.

The cen­ter plans to launch an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign to re­unite lost dogs with their own­ers.

And it has al­ready found homes for sev­eral whose own­ers could not be lo­cated.

HENRY ROMERO / REUTERS

Trainer Ka­tia Her­nan­dez walks with a dog that was res­cued from the sub­way sys­tem of Mex­ico City in the newly opened shel­ter that aims to help find new homes for an­i­mals.

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