Dogs get little respect even when they become works of art

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias

Animal welfare is a clear issue that brings together citizens of San José. So when the mayor of the city approved an art display that promotes awareness of animal cruelty and animal well-being, the six sculptures were set up alongside the Mercado Central on Avenida Central between calles 6 and 8.

Two years later, the exhibit by Costa Rican artist Francisco Munguía still stands, but it has been infiltrated by the art culture of the inner city. There is graffiti on the sculptures. Kids climb on the sculptures. People lean against them or use them as grocery bag holders when they tie their shoes or need a couple minutes to rest.

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias

The polychrome on steel sculptures of dogs titled “Monumento a Zaguates” stand on cement platforms two feet above ground. The term used by Ticos to describe homeless street dogs is zaguates. They also are referred to as perros callejeros.

Each sculpture has a name and a story of the animal’s rescue. Bobi, Ewok, Tábata, Champú, Pauleta and Oso are the dogs Munguía took in with his family. They became the inspiration for the sculptures. The names are displayed with the sculptures on the south side of the Mercado Central.

It was a joint effort in 2009 amongst the Municipalidad de San José, the local magazine Pet’s & Más and the Costa Rica Animal Sanctuary to make the sculptures possible.

The work cost $6,500.

“This is a form of solidarity with the street dogs of San Jose,” Denia Sanchez, said. She is spokesperson for the municipality.

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