Often times when we speak about stray animals, we talk about the inconveniences and troubles they cause in our communities; but yesterday we met a man whose love for stray animals goes beyond the stigma attached to them. 55 year old Oscar Heredia has spent the last decade of his life digging through garbage cans in Belmopan, and the food he is able to gather are not meant to satisfy his own hunger. Every day, Oscar Heredia gathers whatever food he is able to collect from food vendors and garbage cans in order to feed stray dogs and cats living in the market square area of Belmopan City. These animals have grown so accustomed to Oscar’s provisions that they immediately come running to him whenever he is in sight. We had an opportunity to speak with Heredia while he performed his daily routine of gathering and feeding.
Oscar Heredia, Resident of Belmopan: I come out here to feed the animals because sometimes I know that they don’t have anything. I would enjoy my tea knowing that they have eaten first because I know that the poor animals sometimes don’t get anything at all.
Reporter: So what motivates you to do this?
Oscar Heredia, Resident of Belmopan: From ever since I was like this, but I didn’t put it into practice. I just didn’t like to see how the animals were punishing.
Belmopan Vendor: Out here he feeds the animals, especially the cats, and the animals are well aware of who he is because when they see him, they follow him. He starts here, he feeds them, they walk to the other end of the market with him and they come right back. Even at the round house, when I’m sitting, they see him coming, and they leave what they’re doing and they go to him.
Reporter: In a time where a lot of crimes are being highlighted, a lot of murders are being highlighted, what do you think a good deed like this means for the community?
Belmopan Vendor: What he is doing is very nice, because at the time and how we’re going, you won’t see people putting time in doing for others, and he’s doing for animals. I am a person that loves animals and I believe that doing good for animals is doing good for each other.
According to Heredia, he is not bothered by the negative comments people make while he digs through garbage cans in search of leftover food. He says that he has been feeding stray animals since he resided in Belize City.
Oscar Heredia, Resident of Belmopan: You would pass some owner’s houses and see nice pretty, fancy houses, but then you would see the little dogs tied up in a corner. If you were to see how they look, you would be shocked knowing that these people could afford to not let their animal look like that. I have been doing this for many years in Belize, because I grew up between Belize and Caye Caulker. Before I left Belize, every morning I would go for chicken parts by Pepper’s Pizza, I would boil them and then feed them. A lot of stray dogs I know where they are. I don’t feel any way about anything in the sense because I don’t worry about people. I go in the garbage because I know that they throw away a lot of food so I pick up the food, put it in a bag, and go feed the animal.
Heredia left these short but profound parting words with us.
Oscar Heredia, Resident of Belmopan: Learn how to love a little bit more. You could love yourself you know, because nothing is wrong with loving yourself, but you show how big your love is when you learn how to love helpless things out there too.