Dogs: Four-legged Friends or Foes?

Costa Rica is home to numerous unique species, especially in places like the mountain community of Monteverde, but not every creature wandering around is unfamiliar to an American tourist’s eye.

Traveling around Monteverde, I was intrigued to discover a large-sized dog population. No matter where I went, it became a routine to see a dog walking nonchalantly down the street or taking a nap on the stoop of a random home.

Most of the dogs I saw had calm spirits and didn’t pay much attention to me unless I made eye contact, in which case they might have walked a little closer in hopes of food. Though none of the dogs wore leashes like they do in America, their behavior shows that they do have some training — even if it is informal.

As a visitor to Monteverde, wandering dogs seem harmless, but some conservationists question whether these stray dogs have a negative impact on protected biological habitats. On the coast some free roaming dogs dig up turtle eggs out of the sand, eat one or two of them and leave the remaining eggs accessible to vultures.

Not enough research has been conducted to know the exact impact of stray dogs on biologically preserved land. So for now these dogs remain a part of the Costa Rican culture — free to roam with no restrictions.

— Cidney King

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