This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!
Letters from Mexico
September 25, 2021
Pets in Tepoztlán
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. My new pet, Calco. Photo by author
Pets are very popular in Mexico. Like everywhere, their owners love them. They become part of the family. But in Mexico, unlike the US, they roam freely in the streets, with many not neutered. This results in a high birth rate and many strays. For many of us, this is a problem, as our little friends are dependent on us.
In this article we'll take a look at this problem and how some residents of Tepoztlán are trying to raise awareness of it to see what can be done. We'll also take a look at the different attitudes towards pets in Mexico than in the US and where these originate.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Calco- upper left, posing for the camera; upper right: watching a neighbor cat; bottom: Calco has a long body. Photo by author
Pets Around Tepoztlán
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Cat art. Left: a mural on the side of a building. Right: painting in a local gallery. Photo by author
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Pets in my neighborhood. The dogs are hanging out in the street, while the cats sneak past my terrace window. Photo by author
There are many animals in the streets. Two doors down from me, chickens are in the unfenced front yard, and sometimes go foraging beyond. Farm animals come in herds. In one place I lived, we had to close the gate at night or roaming horses would eat the garden. On my street it is rare to see herds of farm animals, but here is a video of cows marching by.
Here's a short video of guardians of a colony I like to hike that's near the center of town. Notice that some are behind fences and others not. Look for the surprise at the end.
When I meet a dog I do not know, I fear it may bite me, or if very friendly, its fleas may bite me. If an attack is imminent, I bend down to pick up a stone. Just this act scares them away.
Kevin Feeds Neighborhood Dogs Daily
I see Kevin making his rounds most every day while in my kitchen preparing breakfast. He was kind to let me follow him on part of his walk. He bakes 35 kilos of dog cookies every week to distribute to neighborhood dogs. As an aside, he told me that farm dogs are not fed, but expected to hunt or get food from neighbors. Later on in this article, Gabriel repeated this (see the video interview). Here is the video I made while following Kevin on his rounds:
Gabriel Raises Community Awareness
Gabriel Mestre Arrioja is a local man who campaigns for stray pets, and also for farm animals and the rights of wilderness fauna. He has had community organizing meetings and helped produce this Facebook page. Some of his goals are to have dogs and cats neutered, arrange adoption of strays and abandoned animals, and locate owners of lost pets.
Gabriel organized a one day fair at the central town plaza where pet related items were sold to raise funds and consciousness.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Food for sale at the pet festival. Top: cookies; Bottom left: grass; Bottom right: BARF means Bio Accredited Raw Food. Photo by author
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Pet accessories for sale at the pet festival. Top left and right: clothing for pets; Bottom left: pet beds and miscellaneous items below; Bottom right: collars. Photo by author
I interviewed Gabriel at the festival and he came up with some interesting observations, for example, of how and why pets are treated differently in Mexico than in the US. Here is the video.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Promotional flyer for the pet fair. Photo by author
Maybe you are exhausted from reading this article, or from other things. I am tired as I complete the writing. Animals know how to relax much better than humans do. They don't multitask or take stimulants to perk up. Well, maybe some catnip now and then. Here, at our conclusion, are some resting pets.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Pets relaxing. Photo by author