Human Interest

Bolivia’s guardian angel for abandoned cats and dogs

By Gina Baldivieso

La Paz, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- Bolivian Miguel Ángel Condori recovered from an accident that left him in a coma for six months and gave him life-long physical injuries, but he does not let this get in the way of his new goal — to provide a home for abandoned cats and dogs.

“They say you never know what life will throw at you, so I think my purpose is to look after God’s creations,” the 41-year-old street cleaner from La Paz tells Efe.

Based in the La Paz neighborhood of Alpacoma, his house is humble but boasts a privileged view across the city and an ample patio, where his 18 dogs and five cats take it in turn to roam.

The barking from Camila, Toby, Blanca, Pelusa and Perla alert visitors that there is more than one dog in this house but it is not yet their turn to play in the patio. Miguel Ángel first likes to feed the pigeons.

As the birds eat, Rocky the timid tabby cat strolls across the patio while Kiro, another feline, sleeps in the shadow of a wheelbarrow.

The cats obey Miguel Ángel when he tells them to go into his room and they are replaced on the patio by a tidal wave of wagging tails and eager wet noses who come to greet the visitor.

Miguel Ángel walks with a slight limp, a reminder of the workplace accident he had eight years ago when he fell badly on his head.

“When I came out of the coma, I spent a year and a half in a vegetative state in my bed. My wife couldn’t look after me, she said ‘go live with your parents,’ so that’s why we separated.”

Finding himself suddenly alone, he sought company in animals. He started raising two cats and later began to feed the stray dogs in the area.

Six street dogs were the first lucky ones to find a home with Miguel Ángel, who had to move house after his old landlords told him to get rid of the animals.

And so he ended up where he lives today, and started to “expand the family” by welcoming dogs looking for food or rescuing others that had been discarded in the trash.

“What pains me is that they put them in the garbage cans, with their legs tied and muzzles closed so that no-one knows there is a puppy in there.”

“People are crap,” he says.

He quickly became well-known as an animal rescuer and neighbors would ask him to look after their animals. His colleagues, too, would bring him dogs and cats found in trash cans.

This was the case for Milagro (“Miracle,” in English), a small black dog who was rescued just before the trash can was tipped into the disposal truck.

Miguel Ángel’s story gained attention on social media during the coronavirus quarantine, which prompted donations from his new supporters. He vows never to stop rescuing animals.

“This illness was worrying me a lot, because if I get it, what am I going to do? But God is good and he has given me this opportunity in life.” EFE-EPA

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