Dogs freeze to death in El Calafate, Argentina, every winter, when seasonal workers leave the Patagonian town and abandon the puppies they bought at the start of tourist season.
Collisions with automobiles kill many a Calafate canine. Other dogs there lap up antifreeze spilled by clumsy motorists; it only takes a tablespoon to kill.
Watercolor, the beautiful shepherd pictured here, and 120 other dogs have thus far escaped death by freezing, antifreeze or automobile, thanks to the nonprofit group TAMA. TAMA feeds and shelters, spays and neuters, and otherwise provides veterinary services to man's best friend. And TAMA's volunteers try hard to find responsible owners for the pooches.
The group relies entirely on the generosity of strangers to cover the dogs' costs, which include the purchase of 60 kilograms of chow every day.
Most of the dogs that live at TAMA's shelter on the outskirts of El Calafate would have died without the group's help. Which is why, when I learned of the group during travels in Patagonia, I contacted it via an email address appearing on TAMA's website and asked if I could donate some dog food.
To say the offer was greeted warmly would be a gross understatement. The group struggles to feed its pups and greatly appreciates every bag of donated food. But due to time constraints, I was unable to take a taxi to a store to buy the kibble and then take the food to the dog shelter.
So I did something I rarely do: A made a cash donation. There's always the chance someone at TAMA pocketed the money or a portion of it, but my experience with such groups is that they consist of good people so devoted to their animals that stealing from them is something they'd never consider.
Who but a heartless bastard would deny Watercolor her food? No one at TAMA, I'm sure of it. God bless those volunteers and their lovable furry friends. I am thrilled to have helped them.