Complaints from shoppers have prompted the city’s Citizen Guard to investigate conditions of caged animals at the Feria Libre market.
The animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and cuys, are often kept in cramped metal mesh cages in unsanitary conditions.
Édison Moscoso, commander of the Citizens Guard, said that his officers are monitoring the situation and talking to vendors about improving the conditions for the animals. “Unfortunately, many of the sellers are unaware of how to treat the animals,” he said.
Although Citizen Guard officers can confiscate animals in cases of endangered species or illegal trading, they cannot act if the animals can be legally sold, Moscocos said. “We spend a lot of time talking to traders and hope this will improve conditions.”
Ecuador’s new penal code passed by the National Assembly and being considered by President Rafael Correa, contains a law making it illegal to mistreat animals. If the code is signed by the president, enforcement will be possible at the markets, Moscoco said.