Dogs are a problem in Samoa. A big problem. The islands are bursting with semi-feral dogs. These are not wild dogs, but they are not pets. From a human standpoint, the dogs are a problem because they can attack. From a dog standpoint, the dogs are a problem because no one cares for them. They have open wounds and bugs and worms and diseases. They get hit by cars and rocks and sticks. They starve.
Riding the bus, going on a bike ride, coming out of a restaurant, you see them. Dogs with every rib painfully visible through matted fur. Hip bones sticking up like mountain peaks. It hurts me to see them. As Cale and I were leaving the restaurant after our anniversary dinner, I spotted a dog across the street. He was here because he could smell and he knew there was food. But where? His fur was matted and missing in places. He was filthy. I could count his ribs. And yet he had this pleading, friendly face with one ear standing at attention and the other flopping over to one side. It hurt me to walk away from there, leaving him standing on the side of the road, starving to death outside a palagi restaurant.
The hardest part is that I know there is nothing I can do. One meal is not going to help these animals and I cannot adopt every starving animal I see or I would have hundreds of dogs in my house. There is no humane society or shelter for animals in Samoa. The one organization valiantly fighting the dog population and abuse is APS (Animal Protection Society). One of the volunteers in my group, Ane, works for APS as a veterinarian. Back in the states she worked with exotic animals in her own clinic and really exotic animals as a zoo vet. APS is doing the best it can to help curb the dog population and educate the public on humane care of animals. It is a staggering job.
I know that the dog problem in Samoa is not going to be solved any time soon, definitely no during my stay here. But at least I can take some comfort in the knowledge that someone is out there working for these animals.