26-year-old David Fernández makes it his mission to turn dogs that are unrecognizable due to neglect into happy house pets. While most passersby wouldn’t dare to touch these cases of severe mange and matted hair, Fernández responds to reports of downtrodden dogs by getting them the vet care they need and connecting them with loving foster homes and eventually adopters. You’ll be amazed by what these dogs look like after a few months of good food and baths.
Santiago, Chile, where Fernández does his work, has an abundance of stray dogs. Although Chileans take pride in their compassion towards dogs, often providing food and shelter for strays as communities, and staunchly opposing proposals to cull their population, rough sleeping is still not easy for dogs. As you can see from the pictures posted by Fernández, dogs living outside are vulnerable to mange, injuries, infections, and all the discomfort that poor hygiene and the elements can cause.
57% of Chileans believe that measures to control stray dogs other than euthanasia should be implemented, and public policy is gradually shifting towards population control for stray dogs. The Metropolitan Regional Council of Santiago is investing 3 billion Chilean pesos ($3,678,000) in spaying and neutering strays in an effort to slow the growth of the stray population. Recent laws have also outlawed pet abandonment and made microchipping mandatory in the hopes that pets won't end up on the streets.
However, animal rescuers and overburdened shelter workers say that public education is necessary for any policy changes to help the situation, calling for people to have their pets spayed and neutered, volunteer as foster carers and donate to shelters and rescuers that help with spaying and neutering strays.