What did we notice once we landed in Santiago & stepped out of airport? Stray dogs called Quiltros, unlike anywhere in world. They are everywhere, friendly & absolutely healthy.
History of Stray Dogs
Within 2 hours of landing in Santiago, we had a walking tour of the city lined up. We reached National Museum which was the meeting point with our guide and there started this discussion about stray dogs of Santiago. So decade’s back, when there was mass scale migration from hinterland to Santiago, people brought their pets as well. While people settled and adopted city lifestyle, they continued to let their dogs free in the streets. Over time their population multiplied manifolds and it is believed that just Santiago alone has about 1 million stray dogs as on date.
Unique things about Quiltros
Based on our discussion with tour guide & own observations over 4 days in Santiago, here are few unique things about Quiltros phenomenon:
- Stray dogs are omnipresent in Chile. Not just Santiago, they are present in every city in huge numbers
- They are most well fed stray dogs in the world. Just the size & weight of them will put many pets to shame.
- They are an essential part of Chilean society. People pet them, play with them and even build kennels for them in public parks
- They are well fed as whole neighborhood takes care of their food and even clothes during winters
- They are extremely territorial in nature. They only stick to their neighborhood.
- Only time these dogs fight is when they cross over to some other dog’s territory.
While at first, Quiltros may come across as nuisance; in just few hours you realize that they are part of the scenery. During our walking tour, one or the other dog accompanied us depending on the street we were walking on.
- Don’t be afraid of these strays. They mind their own business & so should you.
- If you see a territorial fight between two dogs, just walk away.
Indeed only a place so far from home could have given us such a unique experience!!!