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Cape Verde Dogs - Whence did they come?

Cape Verde dogs are special - but what are they?

Most of the dogs that roam the Cape Verde islands live semi-wild. A few have learned to distrust humans and keep themselves remote from habitation. God alone knows where they find enough food and water. And of course many do not. Others are fed at dawn and dusk by owners but roam the streets and beaches by day and sleep out at night.

Few are of identifiable breeds. For they have bred amongst themselves without thought to species purity. Only the fittest survive the cruel environment. A beautiful Dalmatian abandoned by selfish French sailors at Palmeira harbour on Sal soon died of skin rashes caused by the fierce sun.

Most dogs are medium size - between 15 and 25 kgs. Many ressemble Labradors but are smaller, faster and more agile. Some can catch rats; some can dig up crabs. Most have learned to team up to knock over dustbins. And all will spend long hours searching for scraps of food. They never forget that they could starve tomorrow.

Portuguese fisherman sailed to Sal to collect salt for centuries. They used this to preserve their cod, which turned it into bacalhau, still one of Portugal` s favourite dishes. They caught the cod on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, then a British colony. And whilst at its capital the port of St John`s they collected St John`s water dogs to guard their nets. This breed has become better known as the Labrador and it seems that some came to Sal from as early as 1905..

Other Cape Verde dogs, are descendants of Podengos brought from Portugal on Caravels, where they kept down the rats, These are fast and agile but do not swim like Labradors. They bound over rocks and shrubs and will chase anything that moves. They are enthusiastic diggers. They have outstanding hearing and sense of smell; this has enabled them to survive where other dogs have duied out..

The dogs in these photo were all born on the Cape Verde island of Sal. All were found running loose. One still is. One was later killed by the strychhnine which the Town Council used top put down to kill dogs and cats. The others now live in Europe, Some have Labrador genes, some Podengo and some a mix..

The Town Council on Sal is now rounding up dogs with nets at the behest of the Hotel Odjo d`Agua, which has provided a roofless stables as a concentration camp and a pick-up truck to catch them The dogs are fed left over scraps from hotels.Some dogs are sick, some are dying and some are taken leaving puppies abandoned.. Most of the dogs that are easiest to catch have owners. Two charities called Save Cats and Dogs and SOS Cats and Dogs, run by Europeans and Americans are trying to release them or at least improve their conditions. But the Council hates having dogs on the streets and beaches and des nothing to help the neutering campaigns, which the two charities organise with German and English vets.

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Dog rescue in Santiago and Sal islands

What happens to cats?

How Beano escaped the Murdeira killings

How to rescue a dog from the killings