Have you seen this dog? Mex­i­cans search for miss­ing pets

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion - By Chris­tine Ar­mario AP writer

Jack is a small white dog liv­ing in Mex­ico City. He went miss­ing af­ter a mag­ni­tude 7.1 earth­quake star­tled both hu­mans and their pets.

“I got lost in the earth­quake!!!” ex­claimed a sign with Jack’s pic­ture taped to a tree.

Mex­ico’s cap­i­tal was scat­tered with signs for miss­ing pets, mostly dogs, af­ter a pow­er­ful tem­blor hit some 100 miles away on Sept. 20.

At the same time Amer­i­can or­ga­ni­za­tions and vol­un­teers were fran­ti­cally search­ing for com­pan­ion an­i­mals lost in the chaos of Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma, their Mex­i­can coun­ter­parts were deal­ing with their own catas­tro­phe. Then Hur­ri­cane Maria carved a cat­a­clysmic path through Puerto Rico, cre­at­ing yet an­other cri­sis for hu­mans and their cher­ished com­pan­ions.

‘WELL TAKEN CARE OF’

Mex­i­can res­cuers found some dogs skit­tishly wan­der­ing the streets and took them to shel­ters. They were rec­og­niz­able as pets be­cause they were clean, friendly and ap­peared well nour­ished.

Sick, ema­ci­ated and abused stray dogs and cats are ubiq­ui­tous through­out Mex­ico. In con­trast, “These dogs are well taken care of,” said Sil­via Gar­cia, the owner of an an­i­mal shel­ter that took in seven dogs af­ter the quake.

Gar­cia’s Casa del Mes­tizo — the House of the Mutts — is on a street that was roped off with yel­low cau­tion tape. The shel­ter was al­ready at full ca­pac­ity be­fore the quake, so Gar­cia had to tie one new ar­rival to a stair­case. The black dog with pierc­ing brown eyes was found with a col­lar but no tag.

“She was found run­ning, a bit des­per­ately,” Gar­cia said. “There is noth­ing to iden­tify her.”

No one knows for cer­tain how many pets are miss­ing, but many of Mex­ico City’s hard­est-hit ar­eas are filled with dog-friendly restau­rants, parks and up­scale groomers.

‘WE HAVE EVERY HOPE’

A video of res­cuers pulling a Golden Retriever from the rub­ble of a fallen build­ing went vi­ral the day of the quake. Trained search and res­cue dogs are help­ing vol­un­teers search for signs of life. Count­less other an­i­mals had to flee with their own­ers from build­ings in danger of col­lapse.

Out­side the shel­ter were signs for six dogs still be­ing searched for. Own­ers like Mariam Luz­can, 38, went from one shel­ter to the next, look­ing for their pets.

“We have every hope she will re­turn to us,” Luz­can said of her dog Solei, a Dal­ma­tian­like dog with one black ear and dark-col­ored patches of hair around both eyes.

Luz­can and her hus­band run an an­i­mal res­cue home for 50 dogs and one pig named Jac­into. Dur­ing the quake, Jair Luz­can said the dogs ran around their play­room in cir­cles, ner­vous and un­cer­tain where to go. Two ad­ja­cent tow­ers be­gan to col­lapse, and rocks filled their build­ing’s garage.

The cou­ple

put leashes on the dogs and wrapped Jac­into in a blan­ket. But when they tried to leave through their build­ing’s only exit, they found it blocked with a lad­der. Res­cuers told them that there was a gas leak and they needed to leave im­me­di­ately. They urged the Luz­cans to leave the an­i­mals be­hind.

“We can’t live with­out them!” Jair Luz­can im­plored.

“Your life mat­ters more!” the res­cuers said. “Run!”

The Luz­cans said they pushed the lad­der aside and fled with all 51 an­i­mals. A woman came to their aid and to­gether the three pulled the mass of pets to safety.

But at some point along the way, Solei dis­ap­peared and hasn’t been seen since.

“Our daugh­ter went run­ning,” Miriam Luz­can said solemnly.

On Sept. 24, she con­tin­ued cir­cu­lat­ing a dig­i­tal flyer with the dog’s pic­ture on so­cial me­dia, one more in the crowded web of ca­nines peer­ing out of miss­ing pet posters.

PHOTO: ADOBE PHOTOSTOCK

The Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional has so far pro­vided med­i­cal ser­vices to more than 3,500 in­jured an­i­mals, in­clud­ing cats and dogs in Mex­ico City and the state of Pue­bla. The group is also on the ground in Puerto Rico pro­vid­ing much­needed hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance as well as vet­eri­nary care.

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