Monday, April 11, 2011

The lost tragedy: The fate of the dogs in Brazil

There have been several tragedies in this sad and troubled world in 2011.  We learn horrifying new stories from Japan each day.  The earthquake and tsunami there have impacted the entire world.

But Japan is not the only country in the world that has been devastated by the forces of nature.  Almost forgotten, except by those in their grieving nation, Brazil was hit by massive flooding in January.  Homes were washed away, human lives were lost, and dogs were left homeless.

Into the fray stepped Jen Cabral and her family.  On January 12 she left to get her dogs food during heavy rains.  As she drove back home people told he to go back, the roads had become submerged due to the dam breaking and flash flooding.  Trying to get home would be dangerous.  But she continued, she had family, and pups to care for, and with God's blessing she made it home, one of the last cars to travel the road.  Once she got home her heart turned towards her neighbors whose homes were in the path of the water bulldozing through their neighborhood and the dogs who live outside their homes, chained, unable to run.

By that afternoon a torrential rain was falling.  Around her, and her family, neighbors, and their dogs, were being swept away.  All she could do was pray for relief.

The next day pictures and video became available to, what the rest of the world was a suffering third world nation, but to Jen and her pups was home.  A dog sitting in the debris of his house, no sign of his family, living or dead. A woman and her pup being rescued by a rope from a helicopter, but she l  ost her grip on the poor baby, and it fell into the rushing water below.  The whereabouts of the many dogs who made the streets of Brazil their own was unknown, as were the fates of so many people.  "Those who had got out of town, those who ain't got left to drown."
There was one dog she was most concerned about, a street dog, an old white striped female who depended on her husband for food.  Who would be there for her as the waters rose?  The dogs she was caring for in her kennel were sleeping on bedding soaked with water.  And it kept raining, day after day, as food and supplies dwindled.  After three days government jeeps made it up to the higher ground where she lived.  They were broadcasting the names of the dead and asking for assistance for those who were homeless.  And still the rain continued.

They finally made it into town, to face the devastation.  Here is one house destroyed.

Another house, that she described as smelling of death, either with humans or pets inside.

A street dog, a survivor, lay on the ground, but the old striped female, and another street dog, a black dog they fed, could not be found.

Eight days after the deluge began the sun came out.  People were brought up in the hills, but their animals, either farm or pets, were left behind.

The water receded but there were not signs of the street dogs   A vet thought they had gone into the hills when the rains came, but since the flood had changed the landscape, they couldn't find their way back.

That Sunday, when they went out, there was more devastation:  Livestock like cows, buried up to their necks in mud with no one to put them out of their misery.  A horse fell from a mountain side and lay on it's side for three days before succumbing.  An entire local village, buried in rock, with no plans to rebuild.

There was the smell of rotting flesh everywhere.  Bulldozers were used to push the debris, including the dead, into the river, as the vultures gathered overhead.  A tent city was erected for the homeless but no pets were allowed.  They had planned to go to the vet's to lend a hand but the roads were still impassable.

On Monday they made it to San Jao.  They saw the house where the woman was rescued but lost her pups, in ruins.  The vet had a space for about 40 dogs.  One of them was not a flood victim, but a victim to animal abuse that can occur in Brazil.  It had a gouge in his neck from being chained, and then maggots infected the area.
The sad truth came through during the visit to the vet:  There was an equal amount of dogs who were victims of the flood as there were of human abuse.

On February 5 they took a new pup into their pack, a GSD named Nicky.  Nickey came with an injured paw and a muddy collar.  He was very frightened and did not wat to be far from Jen.  The next day Jen found out that the owner and his family were all buried by a mud slide.  Only Nicky was left.

After the flood the streets were full of abandoned, sick dogs.  Those with wounds had them infested with maggots.  One had his tail eaten away, another a leg, and another part of his face.

  While Nicky was making a nice home for herself with the Pack funds became scarce.  Daddy's bakery had to be shut down.  No electricity.  No supplies.  No food.  Just lots of mouths to feed.  On Saturday, February 12 the celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.  But no big parties planned.  Just two more dog rescues.

On Febuary 18th Nickey had to be taken to the vet's.  Whenever someone touched her head she would give out a cry.  This was from some trauma she suffered.  While they were at the vet's eight dogs died, one in Jen's arms.  Distemper and giardia have broke out at the vet's making an unbearable situation even worse.

On 21 a ray of light came through.  Someone had made a large contribution, and one of the vets, a Dr Bruno, would be able to care for the dogs four days a week.  Before then they were lucky to have a vet in the area one day a week.

Even dogs from affluent homes were abandoned.  Two St Bernards were left with a caretaker while their parents went on holiday.  The parents never returned.  The caretaker had no money for the dogs or himself.  They were surrounded and placed in new homes after a judge emancipated them.

In happier news Nicky had adapted to her new home and was no longer showing fear.

But slowly some of the abandoned dogs began to find new homes.  Franciscan nuns took 15 dogs home with them.  These were truly blessed dogs.

On March 3 it was a day of mixed news.  A little puppy at the shelter had passed away, while another came in, blind, and with a possible broken leg after being hurled from a car in a plastic bag.  That little fellow was lucky enough to find a home with a woman who had taken in 40 shelter dogs.  Also more vet care was coming in from the Kinship Circle Vets,

On March 5, nearly eight weeks since the floods began Jen and her husband had returned their focus to helping street dogs.  The vets were in place, and dogs were being adopted.  Her husband was featured in the Defense of Animals newsletter for the work they had done over two months in rescuing dogs.  Although life would never be normal again they could start to adjust to a new normal. 

On March 12 they returned to Teresopolis where the vet was located.  They found this little sick put as cute as could be
And this poor fellow got sprayed in the mouth by a poisonous frog.  I know a frog!  It is so hard to trust anything in Brazil.  Even the frogs have it in for dogs.

On March 15 the Kinship Circle Vets left leaving Dr. Bruno and Dr Jaqueline.  And there were still lots of pups to deal with, including pups like this.

By March 18 it became clear that they could Jen and the family could no longer keep the shelter open.  The cost of living in a disaster area, the loss of income, was too much to pay for their food and the pups.  They needed money and they reached out to friends.  Their first chip in did not work correctly so their original fund raising was poor.  But they have tried again, adding a pay pal account to their site.  They have people come to their door several times a week:  with dying dogs, parents looking for a miracle, or those who can no longer care for the dogs and want to just drop them on her doorstep.  They had survived from contributions from friends and benefactors but when the rain came everyone needed to take care of their own.  It seemed like no one cared if these 16 dogs in their shelter were turned loose on the street because they could no longer be supported.

I know there is so much pain and need in the world.  Japan, the Ivory Coast, Haiti. Brazil's tragedy got lost amongst all the other tragedies.  But there is still time to help.  I know that none of us have money, that times are very hard, but if you can spare even the smallest donation to the Dogs in Brazil then you would be helping a place, and a people, and dogs, that the rest of the world has forgotten.

If you can't contribute, and in all honestly we have not done so yet because we are waiting for when we move and our financial situation settles but we pledge to do so before the end of April.

If you can help please do, and if you can't there is no shame.  We are all struggling.  But if you can or can't please say a prayer tonight for the dogs in Brazil. 

Everything helps.

If you would like to contribute to The Dogs in Brazil click the link HERE


  1. Oh Foley, Mama's eyes were leaking as she read this blog post. Those poor pups and those amazing folks just trying to do the right thing. We can't do much, but we are going to make a donation right now. These special dogs and their special people need all the help they can get.

  2. We couldn't get the chip in to work, but we donated at the Paypal link. Just a tip for anydoggy else who tries, use a comma instead of a period when you enter the amount (ie 20,00 instead of 20.00) otherwise it won't accept your donation. Must be a funky Brazilian Paypal thing.

  3. sobbing. it has been an awful year, so much suffering, asking my blogger friends to help, asking all to help...

  4. You put a lot of time and effort into this post and it's great. It includes parts we weren't aware of. Thanks for posting it. We hope they will get more contributions.

  5. Thanks so much for all your efforts. We love you here in Brazil. Emmy's mom jan