Anjelo Espejo and Maite Carreno Flores in Peru
Soy Callejerito, which means, “I am a little street wanderer,” is a small shelter operating in the popular tourist destination of Cuzco, Peru.
The shelter was founded in 2003 by Anjelo Espejo and Maite Carreno Flores, two friends who live in the city. Normally housing about 100 dogs, Soy Callejerito operates through donations and the help of volunteers.
“I use my money … Maite uses her money for work in the shelter. It goes for food, for a veterinarian, but it’s not a lot of money,” Espejo explains. “In one month to support the shelter I use 6 to 7000 Soles (about $2000 US); it’s expensive.”
Many of the dogs that the pair rescues from the streets of Cuzco have suffered illness or injury, which makes finding affordable veterinary care a challenge.
“It’s difficult finding a veterinarian here in Cuzco because there is no university,” Espejo says. “There are 8 vets here in Cuzco, but they are very expensive.”
As Cuzco draws tourists from all over the world on the way to Machu Picchu, the shelter hosts many international volunteers. The volunteer duties include feeding, bathing and walking the dogs, as well as cleaning out the living quarters.
Sometimes a volunteer may fall in love with one of the dogs, choose to adopt him and fly him home.
“I have dogs in a lot of parts of the world,” Espejo proudly says.
Espejo described the process of taking a dog out of Peru as fairly easy. “It only takes a plane ticket, microchip and certificate from a veterinarian. It’s not expensive,” Espejo explains. “For me, the most important thing is that it changes the life for the dog.”
“All dogs deserve to change their life,” Espejo says. “In the shelter, it’s not the best life, but it’s good. There is food, love and attention. But all dogs need a family; all dogs are special.”