Life can be tough for stray dogs living on the streets of Bolivia. Fernando Kushner, a former businessman, relinquished a lucrative career in the fashion industry to care for canines in need. Bolivia’s ballooning stray dog population suffers from hunger and a lack of public education regarding ownership accountability and animal sterilization. Fernando does what he can to help Bolivia’s most vulnerable four-legged residents, who run the risk of transmitting rabies and contributing to social ills.
Man On A Mission
“I’ve given up everything for my dogs. Romances, family, career – everything.” Fernando Kushner stated passionately of his noble work to feed Bolivia’s homeless and hungry hounds. Fernando, affectionately known as Ferchy, used to be a top-earning and influential marketing executive in fashion until he met Choco. Choco was one of the 1.9 million dogs who called the streets of Bolivia home, and emotionally moved Fernando after he shared his sandwich with the dog lingering outside of his yoga class.
After Choco showered Fernando with nuzzles and licks of gratitude, Ferchy decided he would feed the dogs of La Paz and spotlight their plight. In 2017, 22 regulations passed regarding the treatment and sale of animals, but it has done little to curb an out of control stray dog population. Bolivia has a strange love affair with dogs, who view them as a protector for the home or disposable. Many strays are believed to be abandoned pets, and owners do not practice spading or neutering.
Give A Dog A Bone
Fernando has received a lot of publicity and some criticism for feeding strays. A local, Raul Alcazar, expressed his concern about Fernando’s actions. “What he does is good, but it wouldn’t it be better to give the money to an orphanage or an old people’s home?”
Ferchy gathers 15 containers filled with food from fast food chains and donors daily. A feast of chicken scraps, bones, and dog biscuits are delivered to select sites in seven to eight districts. Fernando makes two rounds in the morning and evening to collect food. He also spends time volunteering at shelters and charities.
Feeding strays may help lessen incidents of dogs rummaging through trash, but people need to understand the tremendous responsibility of owning a canine and the impact of abandoning animals. Fernando Kushner has 15 years of experience in marketing campaigns and encourages the slogan, “Adopta, no compres,” meaning “Adopt, don’t buy.”
If Bolivia is serious about controlling its stray dog population to reduce health risks, everyone will have to raise their awareness about the importance of sterilization and adequate care. Enacting laws is one step, but people must actively seek longterm solutions.
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