The problem of abandoned animals in Colombia

Sita, Abandoned in our sanctuary 3 months ago while she was pregnant.

One of the most difficult challenges in Colombia in terms of the struggle for security, rehabilitation, and protection of animals is the lack of education and understanding of those who call themselves “animal lovers.”

In my country, Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary is not only the only sanctuary in the country, it is also the only one that protects farmed animals and educates the public on farmed animal abuse. This does not mean we don’t help other animals like dogs and cats. We absolutely do! In fact, we have 40 dogs and 12 cats under our care.

Read an article how to sponsor an animal in need here. However, over 80% of the dogs in the sanctuary have been abandoned by those who call themselves “animal lovers.”

I receive at least two calls or messages a month from “animal lovers” in Colombia asking me to help them with a dog or cat that they found by accepting the animal into our sanctuary, with their promise that they will take full responsibility for all expenses required to care for the animal, such as food and veterinary care. They also express their commitment to visiting their rescued animal.

When I am approached to assist them, 99% of the time I tell them “yes.” But sadly, these same “animal lovers” never fulfill their promises, but get defensive and insulting when I remind them of their promise to cover expenses of the animal’s care.

They offer different excuses, like “I lost my job,” “I am broke,” or “I just had surgery”, etc. 

But I wonder, can I honestly tell the animal that they won’t be eating or receiving their medicine this month due to one of those excuses? Of course not. 

These so-called “animal lovers” who abandoned animals in our sanctuary or other shelters across the country, have no genuine interest in continuing to help these animal, because they know that caretakers at sanctuaries or shelters are willing to give their life and their own food, if necessary, for the sake of the animal. Something these people do not realize is that when an animal is abandoned in a shelter or sanctuary and they just disappear, the responsibility becomes the burden of people who are often already overloaded with other animals under their care.

Every animal is like a child. They are dependent upon humans for their safety and livelihood. If a human cannot take care of an animal, or help an animal in need, they shouldn’t claim that they have “rescued” them. Their irresponsibility and sentimental attitude can harm the work of genuine animal caretakers who have dedicated their lives to animals. If you’re not willing to give your life to take care of an animal you’ve rescued, please don’t pass the responsibility onto others. 

I have discussed this issue with caretakers at dog and cat shelters in my country, and the figures they have in regards to the abandonment of animals by so-called “animal rescuers” exceeds 50%.

The sad reality here is that a big part of why there is so much failure with dog and cat shelters in Colombia is due to the failure of the so-called “animal lovers.” The people who abandon animals are destroying the work of these dog and cat shelters in Colombia, making it difficult for them to provide even the most basic necessities of care for these animals because of overcrowding.

Furthermore, there is no government department or Institution in Colombia offering funding to help animals. We have even asked pet food distributors for discounts on purchasing their food, but sadly, they are not interested. Such is the “survival” mentality of most people in Colombia, where self-interest supersedes all other concerns. I get a message maybe once a year from a Colombian resident who tells me, “Hey! I want to go to the sanctuary to help you clean and feed the animals! Most of our current support comes from overseas donors and volunteers. I am deeply grateful for the support I receive overseas.

This project is succeeding thanks to the real love of people that care.

I am writing this with grief and a heavy heart. In the last month, two different people abandoned animals at our sanctuary. I have used extra money to care for them, trusting that their “rescuers” will reimburse me the money, but it has not happened. One of the abandoned animals was a pregnant cat (Sita). She came to us very sick and pregnant. She had four kittens two months ago and still she is sick. After we did all we could to help her get better, including having the vet visit the sanctuary, Sita had to be taken to the hospital. Sadly, she is not getting better, but we still have hope. Like other animals before her, Sita was abandoned at our sanctuary with the promise that they would cover all expenses, yet all we ever got was the initial gifting of food and cat litter over 2 months ago. Sita can’t wait for love, she needs help now. If you want to help Sita, please donate to our campaign or donate here.