Brazil’s impoverished favelas are known to be a dangerous place for the people who live there, but they are also a threat to the countless stray animals that populate the maze-like streets, which is why one humane organization has built a miniature slum just for dogs and cats.
Built in the town of Caxias do Sul, an economically poor community where the stray dog and cat population booms do to lack of spaying and neutering facilities, the miniature shantytown is an attempt by the animal rights organization So Ama (Just Love) to care for the beasts that would otherwise be the victims of starvation, disease, and casual cruelty. So Ama wanted to build a fully functioning shelter to look after all of the animals, but when they realized they did not have the funds to complete the project, they took inspiration from the surrounding city and began building simple doghouses out of cobbled together wood and sheet metal. Housing more than 1,600 dogs and 200 cats among the 1,000 unadorned units tightly packed onto the organization’s property, So Ama’s facility mirrors the conditions of millions of impoverished Brazilians in the surrounding area with eerie accuracy. Unfortunately the dogs and cats also face many of the same problems.
While the furry hooverville is partially subsidized by government funds, most of So Ama’s money comes from donations. However it requires a purported 13 tons of food a month to feed the population of animals, not to mention any veterinary services manny of the formerly homeless animals need, and the charity the organization receives rarely covers the costs. Thus the dogs and cats in the Caxias do Sul favela live most of their lives just like the humans: simply trying to get by.