Stray Dogs- A Neuter Problem

Mexico has a lot of stray dogs; somewhere in the ballpark of 30 million. Cancun is estimated to have 1 million of them. Some of them manage alright on the streets, finding scraps of food and water, but many are starving and ill. If you visit, depending on where you go, you will probably see a few stray dogs. If you don’t, it’s probably because in touristy areas like Cancun, the government often rounds up stray dogs before the high season begins to reduce the negative effects of strays on the tourist business. Sadly, most stray dogs captured by officials will end up euthanized, often by inexpensive methods such as electrocution or drowning. (If you are interested in the subject check out the documentary Companions to None). This is why when we came across Diablo we felt compelled to take him in.

The attitude towards dogs in Mexico varies a lot, but it can be quite different than in Canada or the USA. For many, dogs are not “part of the family,” they are just an animal. Especially for the poorest people, they can be seen as a burden and are often treated as such. It is not uncommon to see animals being mistreated or neglected (laws, if they exist, are often not enforced).
The biggest issue Mexico faces regarding dogs is that few people get their dogs spayed/neutered; the stray population continues to rise at an alarming rate. A single female dog and her puppies can snowball into 67,000 dogs in 6 years (Candi).
Why don’t Mexicans neuter their pets?
  • lack of awareness
  • cost
  • religious beliefs
  • machismo/cultural belief that neutering changes the pet’s personality
In more recent years attitudes have begun to change and a handful of organizations have popped up in Cancun to help with the issue:


Candi (Cats and Dogs International)

Our Mission: To save the lives of stray cats and dogs in Mexico and the Caribbean through spay, neuter, adoption and educational programs, supported and funded by the tourism industry, travelers and pet lovers.


Isla Animals

Our Goals:

  • To provide free spay/neuter clinics to help control the animal population on Isla Mujeres.
  • To provide free or reduced cost veterinary services and vaccinations
  • To offer animal foster care and promote adoptions in Mexico, USA and Canada
  • To educate pet owners about humane animal treatment, care and responsibility
  • To do all of the above in the most humane, compassionate way possible


Tierra de Animales

**NOTE: I had a VERY bad experience with the owner of this business in early 2013. They are liked in the community, which is why I included them, but be cautious when donating money. My experience was 2 years ago so hopefully they have grown and improved as a business since then.**

Earth Animal Sanctuary was founded in March 2011 as a refuge for neglected and abandoned in the streets, ‘mutts’ dogs. These animals rescued from the streets now have a safe place, “a house” and a place to recover from the unfortunate conditions in which they lived: alone and abandoned.

Within the last 20 years a government program has started and grown in our municipality of Benito Juarez called the Canine Care Center. It provides free or cheap sterilization, vaccination, and adoption services. It also attempts to educate residents “on the responsibility of getting a pet and care involved in food, medical consultations and above all, good treatment at home.”

We took Diablo to this program and we were happy with the care he received. It’s nothing like a shelter in Canada, but it’s doing important work and the potential is definitely there. We paid a small fee and bought our own supplies, which is more than fair, especially considering we can afford to do so. Although Diablo was a bit grumpy, the staff were warm and friendly and I would recommend it to anyone looking to sterilize their dog or adopt an animal.
As Bob Barker would say…

“Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”