Rabies in Ecuador

Nathaly Romero - India


January 24, 2017

My family has four dogs here in Ecuador; Bebe, Pekis, Gordis, and Pochito. These four dogs live in our house and then my brother has four more dogs over at his house; Tobi, Maiki, Niña, and Pachakuti.

And so it goes that on any given day I can find eight dogs around my home here in Ecuador. Which as a result makes me very happy. I also imagine this is how my life will be once I’m older. Ever heard of a crazy cat lady? Yeah, I’m planning on becoming a crazy dog lady.

I’m also happy to say the family animals don’t end here. We’re one crazy family who, in addition to dogs also have and care for cows, pigs, guinea pigs, chickens, a pigeon, and a cat. One family.

I’d also like to say that I haven’t had a lot of not-so-nice experiences with animals here. Occasionally, our neighbors’ pig will charge at me or I’ll have random dogs bark/run aggressively towards me, and only once have I been pecked by a chicken. I’m all good here!

That is until recently when I was accidentally scratched, not even bit but scratched by my puppy, Gordis’ sharp tooth. It all happened very fast because in just a matter of seconds as she went for something on my bedroom floor and I went in because it’s my bedroom floor and you never know what you’re gonna get, my thumb met her sharpest tooth. Since it broke my skin, let me bleed, made direct contact with her saliva, she wasn’t vaccinated, and GCY follows strict protocol when it comes to these kinds of situations, I had to get the rabies vaccine.

The whole situation was a bit annoying especially because locating the vaccine was not easy. Since the chances of a dog actually having rabies here is rare, when I went to a clinic I was turned down because I was just being silly. I was also told many times that the dog would have to be observed before the idea of giving me the vaccine even began. If the dog died within ten days of observation, it’s head was then chopped off and examined. Then and only then if there was proof of rabies I could continue the process of getting my shots.

In addition, many clinics didn’t even have the vaccine because “the government said it’s a waste of money since it’s hardly ever needed” therefore making it even harder to locate. I was finally able to find the vaccine and get my shots in Cuenca, which is easily a good two hours away. Of course, only after we’d been called ridiculously crazy…again. Most ironic part of the scene? Some guy walked in giving a presentation and handing out flyers about rabies to everyone in the waiting room as we sat unsure of what to do next because we’d just been denied the vaccine. Eventually, they gave up and the doctor agreed to give me the shots so long as I went out and bought them. Luckily for me, because I had gotten two preventative shots before traveling, GCY said I’d only have to get two more shots instead of five. It was a successful end to my story because I got my shots and didn’t get rabies, obviously.

Latest Update: I spend my days playing with my pup and other dogs, making sure my room is nice and sweeped, and appreciating the fact that I don’t have rabies.

Side Note: My family would prefer me not to play with her. I try to make sure my room’s always nice and sweeped. I don’t have have rabies!

*Please note that although my experience in getting my vaccine was difficult, this blog post is not an attempt to throw any shade to the clinics and doctors I encountered neither the Ecuadorian government for that matter. Thank you.*

(Embarrassing really. Try convincing people this is why you need a rabies shot.)

(From left: Gordis pictured with her big sister, Pekis.)

Hope you enjoyed. See you next time!

Nathaly Romero