Venezuelan Government Creates Social Mission for Street Animals

The national government formally created the Mission Nevado recently, after a push by animal rights and environmental groups for greater assistance for street animals.

Due to a lack of strict rules on the sterilisation of pets, street dogs are common in Venezuela. The mission will also provide support for volunteers organised into Nevado collectives, campaign against maltreatment of animals, organise sterilisation operations, create a public hospital for pets, and campaign for more humanitarian policies in relation to the caring of animals.

Former President Hugo Chavez also called for the creation of the mission in 2009, arguing that “solidarity with animals” was important, and “such sensitivity needs to be developed. The ability to love is infinite…without such values, everything would be a lie”.

Before that, in 2007, Venezuelan artist Omar Cruz proposed a format for the mission. At the time, he suggested “a network of assistance dedicated to collecting street dogs, curing them, feeding them, training them, and offering them up for adoption”.

Andreina Avellaneda, a spokesperson for Mission Nevado, said to public press that volunteers have already expressed their desire to form part of the program.

Avellaneda also said that the mission aimed to address issues like bullfighting, and increase general awareness of animal rights and needs.

The mission is also already looking to modify the Law for the Protection of Domestic, Free, and Captive Fauna, which was passed in 2010. Avellaneda said the mission would organise working groups to hear proposals from communities and organisations around the country.

“The law benefits humans more than animals, it has articles that could be incorrectly interpreted,” she said.

Endrina Calderon, a member of the national coordination of the mission and also of the collective in Merida, said the first task of the collective would be to consolidate the group, then carry out a census to see how many dogs and cats are living in the street.

The mission is named after the dog, Nevado, who spontaneously accompanied the funeral procession of Hugo Chavez last year for the full twelve kilometres.

The National Guard adopted the dog and called him Nevado after the dog which accompanied Simon Bolivar from the Admirable Campaign in 1813 to the Carabobo Battle in 1821. Children also gave Chavez a dog of the same breed, also called Nevado, in 2003 in Merida.

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