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Los Perros de la Azotea en Iztapalapa

Published October 19, 2022 in Mexico - 1 Comment

For a few years ago, I've increasingly wanted to have some pets. 

Whenever I move into a new place, sometimes there might be some pets nearby that visit me or are in the building that I live in.

For example, as I wrote here, there was a dog in a place I lived in near Basilica of Mexico City that always was fun to be with.

When I lived in Pedregal de Santo Domingo of Mexico City, there were some cats that always visited me.

In my current place right now in Iztapalapa of Mexico City, there are a few dogs that give me company.

Some friendlier than others.

When I first moved here, I remember getting surprised at a very loud and aggressive dog barking the living fuck at me as I was returning to my apartment.

It was late afternoon with some brandy in hand while walking on the same street as where my current apartment is.

As I approached my house, I heard some very loud barking from seemingly nowhere.

I looked up and saw this huge dog that looked ready to bite the nuts off anybody that crossed it.

Looked like it had seen four tours in Iraq.

One tough and aggressive looking fella.

All alone though sitting up on the roof a few doors away from my apartment.

Over the next month, the same dog would make an effort to bark at me aggressively whenever I passed by but it hasn't done so after the first month was over.

I guess I became boring to bark at.

Though the dog clearly does bark at anybody else he sees walking by.

Especially anyone new to the area.

Similarly, I have spent the last few months in Iztapalapa on the rooftop of my building.

El Gringo de Azotea.

Not because I have a bad owner who puts me up there to neglect me.

In this part of Iztapalapa where I'm at, there's no nearby parks or green spaces outside of Cerro de la Estrella.

While Cerro de la Estrella is nice and very close by, I don't feel like climbing all the way up anytime I want a spot to just sit down and have some fresh air.

So I have to get creative.

What do I do?

I grab my cheap, 5 dollar plastic chair.

And I have normally taken it upstairs to sit on the roof with some vodka.

Fresh air. Vodka. A view of the barrio.

And don't forget the perros de azotea.

The what of what now?

As you can see here, I always have some company when I go up there.

There are two other, less aggressive looking dogs that sit on the rooftop next over.

They are always there.

Doesn't matter if it is cold and rainy.

Or hot as fuck.

You never see them in the street or inside.

Always on the rooftop.

At first, they'd give me some barking treatment also.

Nowadays, they must've concluded that they can't scare me and they simply greet me more nicely.

Of course, given we are on different rooftops, I can't really pet them and they can't really sit by my side.

So we simply see each other.

Do a head nod.

I wave.

They give a "welcome back" bark.

And, whenever they feel like it, they go over to the edge of their respective roof to intimidate those passing by below.

Personally, I could never do that to a dog.

Or any pet.

Just put it on a rooftop to be neglected all alone?

At least, in this case, those dogs have each other on the same rooftop.

In regards to the first, more intimidating and aggressive dog mentioned, it doesn't seem like he has any friends to share his rooftop with him.

Never seen another dog on his rooftop.

So he's all alone.

And, regardless of if they have friends or not, obviously they have to deal not just with the social isolation but also the weather of the day.

No matter how bad it gets.

It's actually a topic about life down here that some foreigners have come to notice.

But only those who have spent time outside of nicer areas.

Los Perros de Azotea

When I lived in nicer areas of Mexico City like Roma Norte or Condesa, I never noticed any "perros de azotea."

When I lived in lesser known cities like Barranquilla of Colombia, I never noticed them either but I'm not saying they don't exist there. I just don't remember seeing them.

Though I do remember how common it was for people in poorer areas to let their dogs roam the streets long enough until they get hit by a car (however long that takes).

In other nicer cities like Buenos Aires, I mostly spent time in that city in the nicer parts and so I never saw any perros de azotea.

Or, in other words, dogs on the rooftop.

For other gringos who spend their time in only nicer areas though like the better parts of Cancun, Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, I have my doubts they see this at all either.

It's truly when you leave the nicest areas where it becomes more common but especially in poorer areas that are not even middle class.

Be it Pedregal de Santo Domingo or Iztapalapa of Mexico City for example.

When I lived in Naucalpan of Estado de Mexico by Cuatro Caminos years ago, I saw it there also.

There are some obvious issues that come with tying your dog up to some area so he can't leave or putting him on the rooftop.

It's not like the issues are not well known to the locals down here.

It's just many don't give a shit.

For example, we have this source here explaining some of the issues:

"¡Además de Cruel, Mantenerlos en Azoteas Puede Ser Peligroso! Muchos sufren heridas tras caer o saltar al vacío y aquellos que están encadenados o atados, podrían ahorcarse y morir. No tienen en donde refugiarse de las temperaturas extremas, por lo que no es difícil que sucumban ante la deshidratación o la hipotermia."

Then we have this source here:

"El aislamiento prolongado puede provocar depresión en los perros, en especial cuando son razas de perros que están acostumbradas a la compañía, ya sea de humanos u otros perros. Por ende, al estar en un espacio alejado del resto de los integrantes de la familia, se sentirá abandonado."

And, to expand on that last bit, we have this source here:

"Conductas agresivas. El constante flujo de estímulos, como mencionamos antes, es un factor de estrés del perro. El estrés en todas sus formas modifica la conducta de nuestros perros. Mientras más estrés tienen un perro más probablemente empezará a mostrar conductas agresivas, con cualquier persona, incluso con los miembros de la familia."

For those who speak Spanish, I'll give a quick translation.

Basically, some of the consequences of putting your dog on the rooftop are the following (among others):

1. They lack social interaction.

2. They become more aggressive.

3. They become depressed and feel abandoned.

4. They could fall off the rooftop. For those chained, they could actually hang themselves that way.

5. Exposure to extreme temperatures (and issues with dehydration or hypothermia).

Among other issues that could come up!

Still, it's something you see down here (especially in poorer areas).

Though, with public knowledge about these issues, obviously there are laws on the books about this topic.

In Mexico City anyway, they passed a law in 2014 as you can read here against putting dogs on the roof or chaining them up.

“La reforma prohíbe que los animales se encuentren en azoteas, balcones y a la intemperie.. No pueden estar encadenados. Las personas que abandonan a sus mascotas en las azoteas, aunque les brinden comida y una casita, serán acreedoras a multas ya que eso no [se] puede considerar como calidad de vida para ninguna mascota.”

Regarding the punishment against doing this, we have this source here to inform us on that:

"Estas sanciones varían de acuerdo al tipo de infracción, pues dijo que para las personas que tengan a sus mascotas en azoteas u otro lugar, así como tenerlos atados y les causen daño, las multas van de mil 509 pesos a tres mil 019 pesos."

In short, the punishment can vary depending on the type of infraction but the fine for doing this ranges from 1,509 pesos to 3,019 pesos (basically 75 to 150 USD roughly).

Of course, given I've seen plenty of perros de azotea in rougher areas, it doesn't look like they are doing a good job at enforcing this rule in poorer areas of the city.

If you want to see some photos anyway of some more "perros de azotea," then check out this article I found with some pictures anyhow.

They don't look very happy.

Anyway, let's wrap this up with some final thoughts.

Final Thoughts

There's a few quick thoughts that come to mind on this topic.

First, obviously it sucks to see dogs put in that situation.

Second, as I wrote here, I sometimes miss having a backyard while living in Mexico City.

Even if the dog is kept in the house and not having a backyard is no excuse for putting it on the roof, I'd personally want a backyard for my pets to play in if I had some.

Third, this practice of putting others on the rooftop isn't unique to dogs either.

There is no shortage of landlords in Mexico who try renting out rooms on the rooftop also.

Granted, our situation is different from dogs in that we still have a roof.

But I feel there's some similarities here in that it basically comes down to a landlord/dog owner who 1) is trying to save on money as they think they don't have anywhere else to put you or the dog and 2) are completely disregarding of how much it sucks to live on the roof.

Even with a small room to live up there as a person, it still sucks because it's not a real place to live and also because it gets hot as fuck in small rooms on the roof.

I remember visiting a woman that was renting out a room up there in Iztapalapa and it was hot as balls.

Didn't even consider living there. I just left without signing the contract.

Of course, plenty of people do this because those rooms are cheaper as nobody wants to live up there and the landlord might be trying to earn a few extra bucks by designing a cheap space to rent out when they have nowhere else to put someone (and likely don't want to see guests too often in the main area).

Fourth, I know the typical Mexican response to the dogs on the roof is "lack of education."

Those who do this "lack education."

A typical response from people here who are quite obsessed with superficially coming across as "muy educado" whenever they can (especially the upper class and their obsession with English).

Regardless, in this case, perhaps it is a lack of education?

Or awareness of issues that the dogs will have by putting them on the roof.

Perhaps that is the case but I'm inclined to believe that a lot of it is also due to the lack of fucks given.

Even if you explain it to those who do this, I have my doubts they'd give a fuck because clearly they know that their dog is living on a roof with intense heat and rain.

Doesn't take two brain cells to rub together to know that'd be uncomfortable.

Not to mention I'm sure some have seen other dogs have problems (like accidents) if they live in rougher neighborhoods long enough.

So I'm not entirely sure how much of the problem is due to "lack of education" versus "just not giving a fuck."

Which, if they don't give a fuck, it makes you wonder why they even have the dog to begin with?

Fifth, while it might not be the reason for why some have a dog to begin with, one could see in this video here that these dogs can serve as decent protection against invaders.

Especially if the dog is not socialized and aggressive.

Definitely wouldn't want to be in a room alone with that one aggressive dog on the roof mentioned before that looks ready to rip anybody apart.

Sixth, while I'm not sure why authorities are shit at enforcing the law in areas like Iztapalapa, I'd imagine it's because 1) many of the local cops are from the same area and don't give a fuck either and 2) lack of funding to enforce it among all the other crimes they have to keep an eye out (though that doesn't mean they do a good job there either given all the violent crime that goes unpunished).

Seventh, I wrote another article here on how Latin Americans seemingly treat their animals worse than folks back home.

I generally agree that treatment is worse down here among the general population (when you factor in the rich, middle class and poor people) but it obviously depends on what part of Latin America you are in and, in my opinion, the socioeconomic class of those you are talking about.

Similar to how not everybody in the US is the same either and some areas probably have worse people who treat their animals badly than other parts of the US.

At any rate, if you got anything to add, drop a comment below.

That's all I got to say.

Follow my Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

And enjoy this video on the topic of "perros de azotea" here where one of them gets saved. 

Best regards,


1 comment

K - October 20, 2022 Reply

Loved the exploration of a unique local issue! I’m glad los perros de azotea have a sympathetic gringo to share the vista. As always, a thorough and fun insight into Mexican subculture.

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