It is not easy to count how many dogs and cats are abandoned in the city of São Paulo every day. Not only there are no official data, but many animals also hide from view, living on abandoned lots and construction sites.
But it's not a small problem at all: organizations like Institute Luisa Mell receive one hundred rescue requests per day, which makes three thousand a month. It's a lot.
That's when individual protectors come in. These people do everything they can to help rescue animals off the streets and give them a second chance in life. They spend time and money; they stop traffic and jump walls.
"To see a dog have its dignity back is a priceless thing," says Alessandro Desco, a protector who helps abandoned pit bulls.
Alessandro has already rescued about 270 dogs. Most are pit bulls, but not all. "I'll take mutts, too," he says. The monthly costs of his rescue bulls - most of them sick and in need of expensive treatments - can easily hit R$ 25,000 (US$ 6,500). The money comes from donations and Desco's funds.
Caring for sick animals, who left alone would have little chance of a new life, is the path that Jane Carolina dos Santos, 40, has chosen to follow. "It's not anyone who takes a sick animal home," he says. She nursed about a hundred animals, which she later passed to new, caring owners.
Santos not only counts with professional help to care for them, but she also trained as a veterinary assistant to become a better "nurse" for her rescue dogs.
Translated by NATASHA MADOV