Peru has a desperate street dog situation, and while the bigger picture is often overwhelming to animal welfare advocates, it’s the individual stories of success that keep spirits high. This is one such story of a starving dog whose suffering remained invisible until two women from Iquitos decided to make a difference.
El día que dejaste la calle, con mucho miedo por lo que se venía pero enrumbados en una linda historia con final feliz
As regaled in a moving video posted by dog rescuer Ursula Vari on YouTube, it was a woman named Joyci Milagros who changed everything for this dog. Joyci was on her way to work when she noticed a sorry-looking creature scavenging through trash cans, occasionally looking up at passersby. But nobody paid attention. This was not an unfamiliar sight; however, on this day, something clicked for Joyci. She felt an “immediate obligation to help,” Vari wrote.
Recordando el renacer de Ojitos “el elegido” 12/09/2015
Joyci returned the next day with this dog in mind, but she couldn’t find him. However, it wasn’t long before she encountered a second dog, in just as dire need as the first. The dog was covered in mange, was visibly starving, and stood helplessly amid speeding traffic. “Right there, on a steamy early afternoon,” Vari continued, “Joyci promised the dog that she will never let him be in that state… ever again.” Joyci named him Ojitos, meaning “Little Eyes” in Spanish, and their journey began.
Joyci contacted her dog-loving friend Bianca Vasquez, who agreed to provide shelter for Ojitos, and together, the pair discovered Vari’s program, Street Dogs of Peru. The program was able to offer the suffering pup the treatment he needed in order to survive, free of charge. But it wasn’t easy for the two friends. “No one could understand why the women would touch a ‘dog like that,’” Vari shared; Bianca’s next-door neighbor even moved away, disgusted by the sight of the sick animal.
But Joyci and Bianca’s resolve was not shaken. They persevered with Ojitos’s treatment and care and saw beneath the physical scars of his tortured life to the gentle creature beneath it all. It paid off. Ojitos emerged, some months later, as an elegant white dog with boundless energy, a playful demeanor, and so much love for everyone despite his hardships. After footage of Ojitos’s rescue and recovery was posted online, applications for his adoption flooded in.
The combined efforts of two extraordinary women gave this dog the opportunity to trust in people again. Vari, the editor of the moving video, fundraises tirelessly for a sterilization outreach program to help keep Peru’s stray animal population under control. There are also numerous street dogs in Iquitos available for adoption in the United States through Vari’s program.
Joyci and Bianca have received a lot of love from animal lovers all over the world. “Your deed will never be forgotten,” wrote one YouTube user who was touched by the story. “What an amazing transformation!” wrote another. “His eyes looked shell-shocked and dazed when he was rescued, and then they became filled with life.” The two women from Iquitos have set an inspiring model, and for the sake of street dogs everywhere, we hope it catches on.
Working together, communities really can save lives.