One of most common comments made by visitors to Chile about life in Chile is the number of street dogs there are. EVERYWHERE.
Some are tough and have a mean bite, but most are affectionate and just looking for some love from the people. They seem to recognize and use crosswalks. Drivers stop to let these dogs pass. There are makeshift homes along street corners and they get their additional winter sweaters from the Chilean people. They seem to live much more comfortable than most street dogs around the world. But Why?
We are going to let you in on a little Chilean secret:
This dog you see on the street is called a quiltro. A national treasure of the Chilean culture. These dogs “no son de nadie, son de todos”. In other words, they belong to everyone rather than to individuals. Chile is free of rabies, according to the CDC, which helps explain a bit why everyone here is so relaxed about these dogs roaming around cities throughout the country. And the Chilean people love them.
So much so that a quiltro, named Spike is the mascot for one the biggest gas companies in Chile.
And it doesn’t seem like these street dogs are going away anytime soon. People have even protested at attempts by the government to place more severe dog population control laws. So let us be the first to introduce you to the quiltro if you haven’t spotted him at the airport yet.
Chileans are used to it, so just do as the Romans do, right?
Unless you want to adopt one and bring it back home with you. Which happens more often than you think. If you find the “one”, just make sure you go through proper paperwork and visit a local, licensed veterinarian to obtain a health exam along with the needed health certificates and vaccinations for your pet’s air travel and passage through customs.