Protestors Unite Against Killing of Street Dogs in Punta Arenas
Over 40 dogs were found poisoned, leading to angry protests by dozens of animal lovers.
PUNTA ARENAS — On Sunday at 6 p.m., protestors gathered at the Plaza de Armas Benjamín Muñoz Gamero and marched to the home of Bishop Bernardo Bastres in order to demonstrate their anger. Bastres had claimed a few days earlier that God allowed humans to eradicate stray dogs. This statement, according to local dog lovers, might be the reason for the murder.
“God created things to be at the service of humans,” Bastres declared. “This is a principle of the Genesis. Everything is at our service. I don’t want to kill dogs just to kill dogs, because that would be barbarism. But dogs are invading the streets. They have more rights than we have!”
The bishop asked for the government to create a new norm to eradicate strays after he was attacked by six dogs a few days earlier.
His declaration, followed by the dogs’ poisoning, immediately led to various reactions from animal rights organizations, including the UDDA (Unión de Defensa del Derecho Animal), who organized the march. “Our volunteers received notification of dead dogs in the center of Punta Arenas,” recalled UDDA President Valeria Muñoz. “What we saw there was tragic and horrible.”
According to the UDDA, not all the dogs killed were stray dogs- at least five inhabitants of Punta Arenas found their pets poisoned.
The demonstration aggressively converged at the Iglesia Catedral, calling for Bastres to explain himself. The ecclesiastical authority had to leave the church under police protection.
“Stray dogs are a big problem in Chile,” the Grupo Asistencia a Perros Abandonados told I Love Chile. “There are over 12,000 stray dogs living in the streets of Punta Arenas, and the government has to find a solution. But this situation is caused by people who abandon their dogs, and killing these dogs is obviously not a solution. Bastres must apologize – violence is not a principle of Christianity!”
Bastres, however, denied any link between his declaration and the slaughter. “I’m not guilty,” he asserted, “and I can’t believe that someone, or a group of people, assumed the right to take these dogs’ lives.”
“Only the authorities have the right to make decisions about dog overpopulation,” he added, concluding that his words about the necessity to eradicate stray dogs were disproportionate to the situation.