Throughout Peru, as in many other countries across the globe, stray animals are the norm. Dogs and cats wander the streets, sleep in parks and creep along the sidewalks constantly. I wasn’t accustomed to this when I traveled to Peru. In the US, almost every animal wandering around has a warm place to call home, a family to give it a collar and a cutesy name like “Princess”. It was shocking, and a little jolting, at first to have large dogs walk towards me without collars or someone chasing after them. It was even slightly unnerving, not knowing how these animals normally behave or what kind of diseases they may have had.
But, of course, being vegan and a crazy animal lover, I would pet them anyways. Some of them would come and press their bodies right up against mine, especially the big dogs, nearly collapsing on me. All of the dogs in Peru just seemed to want love and attention, some of them denying food and water, vying for a nice head scratch.
There was even a place in Lima that my classmates and I came to call “cat park”, as I’m sure many before us have. Actually named Kennedy Park, the cats were endless; sulking from trees, creeping on people with papas fritas in hand, hoping for a bite of the grub, or begging for attention. These cats can be taken to the local vet, where they will be cleaned up and ready for adoption.
Yet, it was nice to see them have the freedom to run around, not locked inside. I’ve always been sad to think of animals who don’t find homes, but that’s because in the US, they’re locked up forever or are put down if not. In peru, this isn’t the case, and it’s a nice thought that they can retain their freedom if they never find anyone to take them in.