ASUNCION – Dogs, cats, chickens and even hogs are surviving on the roofs of houses surrounded by floodwaters in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, awaiting the return of their owners or a visit from anyone able to feed them.
The pets’ owners, mostly poor people living in neighborhoods on the banks of the Paraguay River, left the critters behind as floodwaters rose.
More than 75,000 residents of the capital and about 230,000 other people across the South American country have been forced to leave their homes.
The improvised shelters set up in streets and plazas do not have room to accommodate pets.
“The poor people should be accepted with all of their animals, not just them alone, but the city government will not let you live with your animals in the streets,” said Lucio Oviedo, 44.
Oviedo managed to get his 10 hogs and several chickens out of his property by the river, but he had to leave his two horses behind on a miniature island that shrinks each day as floodwaters rise.
Horses are common in Asuncion, where they are used for transportation and to pull the wagons used by recyclers.
Oviedo said he found a place to house the horses but has not figured out how to move them there.
The roof of Oviedo’s house, the only part of the structure visible, is covered with cats.
Other people, including 17-year-old Juan Ramon Duarte, have not evacuated because they refuse to leave their animals behind.
The teenager is living on the roof of his family’s house with a collection of dogs, cats, chickens and ducks.
Some of the animals belong to the young man’s family and others were rescued by him.
Adriana Moreira and a group of friends, meanwhile, are using a boat to rescue abandoned animals.
The group has rescued more than 100 animals, including three hogs, since they started their operation, Moreira said.
“We bring some out every day, but we can’t cope,” said Moreira, who leaves food for the animals on rooftops.
The rescue group, which is financing its operations with donations, takes the animals to a veterinarian and tries to find people to adopt them.
The loss of animals can be both an emotional and an economic blow to owners.