A popular movie that features one breed of dog often raises their popularity, which results in people obtaining the breed without thinking it through.
The timeless popularity of “101 Dalmatians" has certainly made this true for Dalmatians throughout the years, but one Chilean man says the 1996 movie actually inspired him to rescue the breed.
"It all started because of that film," Nelson Vergara told The Vancouver Sun. "That was computer-generated. But I wanted to do the real thing."
He loves the breed so much that he also drives a white van painted with black dots.
The 55-year-old man has 42 dogs living in his backyard, many of them Dalmatians that were roaming the streets of Santiago.
Vergara’s neighbors routinely report him for the foul odor coming from his property, and authorities have threatened to evict him if he doesn’t get rid of some of the animals.
The publication reports that there are literally millions of dogs running the streets in Chile; many of them are strays. However, even if they are not strays, many people who have dogs in the country are not responsible, allowing their pets to roam while they’re at work. And worse, since the dogs typically are not spayed or neutered, they continue to reproduce, adding to the already terrible suffering.
The country’s humane organization has called the problem “alarming.”
Vergara is unemployed and his small grass roots rescue effort survives on donations. He hopes he can help raise awareness about his country’s pet overpopulation problem.
"I wanted to help — not just the Dalmatians but all dogs, because in Chile we need a solution to the canine problem," Vergara said. "Every day you see news of abandoned dogs roaming, but no one does anything about it. If we had a shelter, we wouldn't have these kinds of problems."