There are so many wonderful things in Sicily and each day I become more thankful that I live here! Still, there is one situation that I cannot seem to get used to. Sicily has a huge population of stray dogs. There are over 750,000 stray dogs in Sicily. Where I live you can see small packs of dogs wandering together, older dogs resting under the overhang at the local IKEA, and occasionally you see puppies alone on the side of the road. I have been shocked as I watch people walk past them without even giving a second glance.
I started to do some research. First of all, there are also many stray cats in Sicily and people are strictly forbidden to feed these stray animals. I was reading that most of these strays do not make it through their first year of life due to the malnutrition of life in the streets. I was happy to read about many organizations that help these animals. An organization called Catnip takes strays and neuters the animal to attempt to lessen the growing population. There is an animal shelter in Marsala that protects strays and attempts to give them new homes. There are also numerous Facebook groups trying to get some of these animals adopted.
In the past few years, there have been multiple attacks on humans. Many people do not realize that these animals have been brought up in the wild and the person will try to interact with the dog. The dog who has not been surrounded by humans feels threatened and attacks. Some of these attacks have been fatal. This should be all the more reason to find ways to solve this problem.
There are other laws encouraging people to turn in stray animals to shelters, giving money to families who take in stray animals for medical bills and neutering their new pets, but most law informants agree that it is rare to find families who will take in these animals.
I will probably write more about this soon…..I’m still looking further into it since it seems to be such a huge issue in my new home. I’m curious how I can help. I thought about leaving a picture of stray dogs with this post but it was just too sad. So instead, here is a picture of my fur babies.