The number of stray dogs and cats on the streets and beaches of Progreso has become a public health hazard, admits Mayor Julián Zacarías Curi.
As a result, in conjunction with animal rights groups and volunteers, Progreso plans to ramp up its efforts to sterilize the city’s stray animals.
Though Yucatán’s largest port city has long had a problem with stray animals, the issue seems to have only become worse over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic, many people adopted animals only to abandon them after the novelty wore off. Some perhaps not feeling it safe to walk their dogs chose to just let them go instead of having them confined in their homes,” said Progreso’s subdirector of Ecology, Mabel Eugenia Aguirre Quinto.
However, getting ahold of stray dogs, and especially cats, for sterilization has proven to be difficult. This has in turn limited the success of the sterilization campaign.
According to locals, large packs of dogs can be seen all over the city, but often congregate on the beach when fishermen who offer them scraps return to shore.
Fishermen have reported that for the most part, the dogs are not aggressive but that large fights break out among them from time to time.
After a rabies scare in 2017, health authorities in Progreso adopted a policy of rounding up stray cats and dogs to euthanize. However, these plans were quickly dropped after an intense public backlash.
Since that time, the city has opted to change tactics and is now routinely going door to door in affected neighborhoods to vaccinate domestic pets. A much less drastic, and humane solution to be sure.