From My San Antonio News:
CARACAS, Venezuela – It was Sheldon’s 6th birthday, and Mary Cruz Lema realized she had to give him up.
As Venezuela’s economic crisis had deepened, she and her husband had been struggling to feed their beloved black and white schnauzer. Their collective salaries – hers as a schoolteacher and his as a nurse – equaled no more than $10 a month, barely enough to cover meals for themselves and their two children.
Let’s put that into perspective.
In the US, a teacher and a nurse should have a combined mid-career income of over $125,00.
Caracas is the capital city of Venezuela, with a population of over 2 million. That’s not podunk by any measure.
Socialism has reduced what would be high middle class two income family to third world pennies per day destitution.
The last time Sheldon had had a dog treat was in November. By January, their budget was so tight that Lema stopped buying pet shampoo and begin limiting his meals to one a day. By June, his only sustenance was a few leftover vegetables from the family table. Once playful, Sheldon became lethargic – sitting in a corner in distress.
“I looked at the dog and couldn’t sleep,” Lema said. “It felt urgent.”
So she took a step that is becoming increasingly common in this collapsing nation: giving up the family pet.
I’m kind of surprised they didn’t eat him. I guess when it’s your dog, it’s different, but people in Venezuela have turned to eating stray dogs.
If life in Venezuela has become hard for humans, it has become even harder for many pets. With inflation soaring toward 1 million percent, dog food and veterinary care have spiraled out of reach for millions of people. One kilo – or 2.2 pounds – of dog food, for instance, now costs nearly the equivalent of three weeks’ salary for a minimum-wage worker.
In the US a 52 lbs bag of dog food costs about $25 (after tax) at the local Wal-Mart. That lasts my dogs a month.
That’s socialism for you. Not just do a teacher and nurse get reduced to $10 per month, but dog food becomes prohibitively expensive.
“People are being forced to choose their priorities, and dogs for the most part aren’t one of them,” said Esmeralda Larrosa, owner of the Kauna Animal Foundation, a Caracas shelter. Her facility, she said, is now struggling to feed its 125 dogs – including 15 that arrived within the previous two weeks. “The rise in abandonment we are seeing is simply crazy.”
On one recent morning, dozens of dogs, many of them emaciated, languished inside Evelia’s Shelter in eastern Caracas. The smell of dog urine filled the air – a scent hard to wash away in a city where businesses and homes have running water only intermittently. A tiny, skeletal black poodle – brought in a week earlier – sat in one corner. A 1-year-old golden retriever, recently surrendered by a man unable to feed him, roamed the yard.
“Every day is incredibly sad,” said Aida Lopez Mendez, 53, one of the shelter’s owners. “We never thought the situation could get so tragic.”
Cuba, Cambodia, the Soviet Union, Ukraine, China… where has socialism not resulted in famine? Yes, you should have thought it could get that tragic.
For pets as well as people, the crisis here is likely to get worse. This petroleum-rich country’s woes are the result of a combination of factors – including lower oil prices, corruption and failed socialist policies. In an attempt to stabilize the economy, President Nicolás Maduro – the successor of Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013 – announced a 3,000 percent minimum-wage hike last month.
So far, though, that measure and others have seemed to backfire, with prices for basic goods almost doubling.
I guess they don’t teach economics in Venezuela anymore. They don’t teach it at Boston University anymore either.
For Lema, the teacher, saying goodbye to her dog was one of the most traumatic experiences of her life. On that late June morning, she recalled, she walked out of the house holding Sheldon, accompanied by her two children, as representatives of an animal aid group arrived in a car to pick up the dog. The three of them were crying. Her boy, who is autistic, was especially distraught.
She gave the aid workers Sheldon’s purple pillow, his little red quilt with polka dots, and the dog. As their vehicle started to pull away, her 13-year-old son started hitting the car window, shouting for his pet.
Lema said she kept Sheldon’s dog tag.
“We miss him every single day,” she said.
Let me put this as bluntly as I can.
I have two dogs. I love them. I love my dogs a lot more than I love socialists. So let this be a warning:
If you implement socialism, causing me to end up on $10 a month in wages so I can’t afford to buy dog food for my dogs. I will not abandon my dogs. I will grind your socialist voting ass into chopped meat and feed you to my dogs.
Forget coffee cups that say “Liberal Tears.” You will end up in a old coffee can marked “Comrade Brand Dog Chow.”