Written by Rosemary Underhay (Lima, Peru)
I live in Peru, and work in animal health programs in the sprawling shanty-towns of Lima, the country’s capital, with Vida Digna, a Peruvian animal welfare association.
One damp, chilly day we were attending a line of about 200 very poor people who had brought their animals to be tended and cured by our vets. In the line there was a small boy, deaf and unable to speak, who used sign language to tell us we needed to see something urgently.
He disappeared for a while and then returned with a small, cold, miserable puppy covered in an angry, itchy mange and with a nasty, festering wound caused by scalding water, probably thrown at him to scare him away from market stands. He was completely abandoned, except for his faithful human friend.
The vet treated and dressed his burn and treated his mange, ridding him of fleas, ticks and worms, so that he could rest and sleep, and we gave him a meal. A kind-hearted neighbor agreed to care for him until we could completely cure him of his mange. Every week he was back in the line with the small boy, who wasn’t letting us leave until ‘his’ dog, now named Milo, was cured.
He Became a New Creature
|Hardly recognizable now as that same pathetic creature |
we saw months ago.
Today, Milo is making the most of the life he so nearly lost. Healthy, happy and homed close to the small child who refused to let poverty and physical limitations stop him from saving a life, and helped us to turn Milo’s suffering into happiness.
A Bit More About the Big-Hearted Little Boy
The small boy has a family, and as you see he is a happy little chap. However, he lives in an extremely poor community and in a country where there are no free services of any value for children with his difficulties. I do not know if he attends school at all. We always see him on our programs because he brings us strays. He wants us to give him an injection along with the dogs (the anti-mange injection), and the vet pretends to get ready an enormous syringe. Here, half of all school-age children do not go to school because the parents cannot afford it, so he is one more of many. However, we always try to make it clear to him that he is changing his world, by turning suffering into happiness.
We feel that the message is very strong, that people who are living permanently with those terrible constraints still want their animals to be well-cared for. People love their animals. The animals of the poor are often ill-cared for simply for lack of information and money. We teach above all, but provide services at prices most can pay for, even if only bit by bit. That is our work. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to help the animals in Peru’s shanty towns may do so here.
Brought to you by the Harmony Fund and The Great Animal Rescue Chase