Have you seen this dog? Mexicans search for missing pets
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.
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.
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.