Joe the bin tipper

People living in the city of São Paulo spend more with their pets than with food for themselves, according to official statistics released earlier this year. The same research, published by Fipe, the Brazilian Economic Research Institute Foundation, also suggests that in SP, there are just as many pet shops as there are bakeries – over 4,000 establishments in the city alone.

Paulistanos love their pets, particularly “exotic” breeds: I have seen more English bulldogs in my neighbourhood than I have ever seen in Blighty… even though a puppy can cost anything up to R$ 3,000 (£1,035). Many people buy puppies at pet shops, where they are kept in cages inside the store. Often, the animals are just a couple of months old as breeders want to sell them fast – and there is a lot of demand. But it is heartbreaking, at least for me, to see these little animals separated from their mothers so early and living in such stressful conditions.

We did not want to support that kind of dog trade, but still wanted a pet. And we knew that there were several thousand animals out there waiting to be adopted, at NGOs re-homing mixed breed dogs that often come from the streets – the so-called vira-latas (bin tippers, or scavengers in Portuguese). And one fine day in June, we came across Natureza em Forma, an animal charity that organises adoption fairs every Sunday at their HQ in the old São Paulo city center (details at end of article).

As soon as we walked in, we saw a pack of happy little mutts running around, wearing “Adopt Me” bandanas … And within a couple of minutes, we saw Joe among them, limping – he had a car accident when he was a couple of months old whilst living with crack addicts under a bridge in the east of SP – and immediately decided to take him home.

Once we brought him home, we had a bit of an adaptation phase, with Joe doing his business all over the house, tearing my favourite shoes apart… the dog also came with a few surprises health-wise including an ever-upset stomach but eventually, he managed to find some stability in his new home after a tough start of life on the streets.

Fast-forward a few months and our little mongrel is already the king of the house, with a bed in every room, a load of toys and food and water whenever he wants, as well as walks around the neighborhood all the time – which is when he charms every person that walks past him and catches his eye.

As for us, we are Joe’s pack now. Everyday he becomes more affectionate and entertaining… and it’s hard to think of daily life without him around and having my pockets always stuffed with hygienic dog bags. It really would be safe to say that this bin tipper is one of the best things that has happened to us in our new life in São Paulo so far.

For those in SP who have a pet or are thinking of adopting one, the NGO Natureza em Forma is organising a party this Sunday to celebrate the World Animal Day. The event will include the charity’s traditional animal adoption fair, a dog “cocktail”, cinema sessions and a bingo, as well as microchipping/identification services and vegan/vegetarian grub. To see the event flyer with all the information and directions, click here.

Dog adoption fairs at Natureza em Forma
Every Sunday, 12-8pm
Rua Rego Freitas, 542 – Centro – SP
Opposite Roosevelt Square/ Consolação Church
Tel: 11- 29170257/ 11-77661560 /11-32562636

One Comment

  1. Hi Angelica,
    I’m a Belgian expat, living in Volta Redonda (RJ) since January 2009.
    We recently also adopted a “vira lata”.

    I too saw the very young puppies in one of the local pet shops, wondering if these weren’t too young to be taken away from the mother. (BTW, in your post, did you really mean to say “a couple of months old”? to me they only seem to be a couple of weeks -if that- old)

    Anyways, Glad to have “stumbled upon” this post 🙂

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