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Working for Change in the Caribbean

Puerto Ricans struggle with culture and economics to protect animals

Puerto Ricans struggle with culture and economics to protect animals

Thye Aun Ngo/istockphoto.com
For Americans seeking a sun-filled vacation with white-sand beaches and warm waters, who dream of a Latin American-style siesta for the summer, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico often serves as an alternative to the spring break-clogged beaches of Cancun. The Caribbean island seems like a dream come true: Accessible and affordable, it boasts a thriving blend of African, Spanish, and American cultures, and—as an alternative to the exotic beach scene—visitors enjoy romantic Spanish-colonial architecture, stretches of rural countryside, a beautiful tropical rainforest, and one of the most spectacular bioluminescent bays in the world, glowing year-round on the island of Vieques.

But beyond the tourist’s dream lies an unpleasant reality for many animals. The stray problem is large enough that even visiting tourists often see packs of dogs roaming the streets and beaches. Animal welfare has long been neglected on the island, and animal control methods often resemble protocols for pest management stateside. Roundups and extermination are standard practice.

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