santiago’s kiltro

Santiago Kiltro

Having been fortunate enough to travel throughout South America, I have noticed one constant in all the cities I have visited- stray dogs. Peru was possibly the worst. Stray dogs everywhere. Chasing car tires, stalking the streets in packs, and eating out of trash bins. My heart bled for all these stray pups. Then I arrived in Argentina. I remember thinking, “surely, Argentina will be different.” But alas, just as many strays. My time on mainland Ecuador was brief, but the story was no different, los perros were everywhere.

Now enter the Chilean stray dogs. I immediately noticed something different about these fellas. For one thing, they were so chubby, mild mannered and generally the happiest dogs I had seen in a long time. I soon learned their story.

Let me introduce you to the Chilean Kiltro – a dog of Santiago, Chile.

Before Santiago was an urban city, it was previously surrounded by farm land. Farmers and their families had many dogs on their property and let their dogs roam free. There was no need to build fences to keep them in because their dogs knew where home was. Then, as Santiago progressed into an urban center, families began moving into the quickly forming city. However, they maintained their practice of letting their pups roam free. Later, the issue of dogs running free through the city had obvious consequences – ehem – doggie do do – so the city formed a dog pound to round up the strays.

Every morning the pound would round up the so-called, “stray dogs,” and take them to the pound. Then every evening, the owners of the dogs would pick them up, take them home, and then let them roam free again. This cycle continued until a bitter relationship towards the pound forced Santiago to abandon the idea.

Santiago views all the dogs on the street, the Kiltros, as their own. Everyone works toward keeping these Kiltros well fed and taken care of and in return, these pups love their universal owners. I heard stories from local Chileans saying that nothing is better than ending a long evening out dancing with a walk home with a Kiltro, both for safety and company. In the winter, Kiltros can be seen wearing little booties to keep their paws warm and if you see a Kiltro in need, and cannot personally attend to them, you can post to a Facebook group and someone will come immediately. So even the Chilean Kiltros have universal healthcare!

*facts learned from Tours4Tips Santiago walking tour


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LocationLOCATION: Santiago

  1. Crazy how many stray animals there are in so many different countries. When I went to Egypt, there were stray cats all over Cairo! So jealous you are going through South America, I have always wanted to go and have not been yet!

    Denise | Fashion Love Letters

    • Hi Denise! Yes, it really is such a shame there are so many stray animals, so it was so heartwarming to learn Santiago is taking care of their animals :)

  2. I was a little hesitant to keep reading once I saw what a kiltro was as I was unsure as to how this post would end up, but I’m so glad I didn’t exit. I love dogs and would take in all the strays if I could. This is such a heartwarming story and I’m so glad you shared it.

    • Hi Hannah,

      It was not until I read your comment that it even crossed my mind that this story could have taken a turn for the worse, just because I knew it had a happier ending! Thank you for pointing that out. I am so glad you read the entire story because really, it was such a nice feeling to hear how well taken care of the dogs are. One of my favorite Kiltro memories was watching this one little guy happily chase pigeons all afternoon in the park!

  3. There were lots of stray cats in Indonesia and we saw lots of stray dogs. Stray dogs really freak me out though– because you don’t know if they are going to bit you!
    Melanie @

    • I am with ya on being a little hesitant when it comes to the stray pups! You always have to be vigilant.

  4. Wow, I’m so glad to hear that the Chilean stray dogs are taken care of! Though it makes me so sad to hear that in other places that is not the case…I wish they could all receive loving care!

    • I know, it is heartbreaking to see all the pups without homes, but its nice to know that they are so well taken care of in Chile! Hopefully other South American countries will follow suit.

    • Hi Shireen! I am going to Thailand next on my big trip. I will be there for about a month. Do you have any recommendations?

  5. That is so cool how they take care of them! You definitely don’t see that everywhere. In Romania my hubby wasn’t supposed to feed the strays and almost got into trouble multiple times but he kept feeding them anyways. I don’t know the pros and cons of that but we have so much trouble just passing by strays :(:(

    Pink Wings

    • I love this story about your husband. Says a lot about how caring he is, sounds like you found a perfect partner :) I am with you on not knowing the pros and cons, but at least in the Santiago example, its a pretty wonderful story!

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