If there are two things I love, it’s film documentaries and dogs. But dog documentary Companions to None is one of those films I probably shouldn’t watch because I’ll just cry the entire time.
It’s about the overwhelming street dog population in Mexico (I highly recommend Amores Perros — or Love’s a Bitch in English, for a fictionalized-but-apt examination of Mexico’s bizarre relationship with dogs.)
My neighborhood, as I’ve explained before, is an odd microcosm of this societal ill. There’s people like me, walking our fancy, neutered, well-loved dogs in beautiful Parque Mexico. Never far away, though, are street dogs. Sad street dogs with open wounds, limps and desperately sweet souls. And because there is no consistent sterilization program for street dogs, these dogs keep reproducing, in the shadows, ignored by most. Thankfully, a few kind people in the neighborhood do try to take care of these dogs, such as putting out mats for them, feeding them, and taking them to the vet/groomer’s if they need help. More than once a street dog has followed me home, hoping for a hand-out. Of course I oblige when this happens.
Go to more rural parts of Mexico and profound poverty and cultural norms exacerbate the problem. People barely have enough money to feed themselves (and their large families — contraception for humans is not a wildly popular idea, either), so taking proper care of street dogs is low on the list of priorities.
As well, a persistent belief that neutering male dogs will make them “gay” keeps sterilization programs from taking hold. One woman in the film trailer credits the Catholic Church with propagating this belief, and I’m not surprised. Homophobia knows no bounds, not even when it comes to pets.
As the LA Times explains, the film may not be widely seen. (I want to give a shout-out right now to the Times for having excellent coverage of Latin America at a time when most news divisions are cutting staff.)
“Problems securing a wide distribution for the film may obstruct the diffusion of what is an important message. Buchanan said American networks such as Animal Planet, Discovery and HBO passed on broadcasting the documentary and that a deal with TV Azteca –- one of Mexico’s two main commercial broadcasters –- fell through.”
I do hope the film gains momentum, or at least the important message it carries. Sterilizing dogs is far more humane than letting them over-populate, starve on the street, and create more starving puppies. And the more your sterilize, the smaller the problem gets with every passing generation.