Animal Welfare

The lives of animals in El Salvador represents an interesting worldview. It’s common to see animals roaming the streets and busy highways in El Salvador. Cows, horses, chickens, and street dogs are ever-present. Often smaller, ferrel animals such as cats and dogs wander into restaurants or approach you on the streets. Maybe it better serves us (from the U.S.A.) to look at animal welfare in El Salvador through an ecological lens rather than through an anthropomorphic cultural lens. An important note: these animals never appeared aggressive towards humans in my experience.

A street dog

A common street dog

What are the social justice issues?
Chuchos or “street dogs” often wander Salvadoran neighborhoods and streets in search for food, play, and companionship. They occasionally appear diseased and/or malnutritioned, so it’s a bit different than the dogs in the U.S.A. (anthropomorphic lens). Yet they are truly free to use their own will and natural inclinations (ecological lens). Perhaps this raises an issue for human-animal lifestyles in the U.S.A., where we often confine cats and dogs into houses and cages, thus limiting their natural freedom as autonomous creatures. It’s a difficult issue to untangle.

Similarly, it’s common to see horses and cows free to roam the land. Some farmers, though, do choose to tie livestock to a post or tree. Branding is also typical for livestock. However, chickens are rarely caged, and it’s common to see various animals freely crowing in both urban and rural settings.

Most importantly for me, it is not common for animals to be factory farmed. As I reflect on the status of animals in El Salvador, it raises more questions for me about the U.S.A.’s treatment of animals and contributions to large and deep concerns for animal suffering. So I ask myself: why do largely torture animals through factory farming? Do we place a higher value on security or on freedom in our animals? Should we maintain direct relationships with livestock farmers ? Importantly, what can we learn from Salvadorans so that we can alleviate animal suffering in the U.S.A.?

An "urban" cow

An “urban” cow


Chickens on the side of a street

Chickens wandering freely in community


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