En a community of Veracruz, where the dead quivered racketeering and electoral campaigns heated tempers in every conversation, the people rose to unshackle a stray dog that ran the risk of being sacrificed.

“We are all Solovino,” exclaimed the protests. Who is the man who adopted the mediatic animal and saved him from dying? They say Don Dog and presume to have found happiness by raising 57 dogs and counting …

In the middle of the electoral massacre, a street dog that was national news for a few moments, perhaps a couple of days, was adopted by Rafael Sánchez Casas, who took him to his life alongside his 55 dogs and 3 cats.

And bit him.


“Have not you seen the dog that fights the chariots?” She is one of the sweethearts of the park, asked a niece Rafael, or Don Perro, as the inhabitants of a municipality near Xalapa, Veracruz, where they have a property adapted for their animals: simply our paths crossed, thinks while handling a Truck full of barks and happiness.

That dog, Solovino, had become the favorite mascot of Parque Juárez, sweetbreads, boleros and journalists fed him.

The media boom began when a trader thought to hang a sign where he asked for croquettes. They took photos. The image seized Twitter and Facebook.

Time later, a week before the presidential elections, Victor Tobias Gil, Head of the Animal Health Center of the municipality of Xalapa, sent a brigade of men to pick him up. Reports said that it was an animal that was at risk because it frequented to run between the cars, it once attacked a person.

But someone shouted: Leave Solovino! Another replied: We are all Solovino! And those who were there joined in the claims to let that mestizo dog, light brown, short in fur, with legs stained in white and ears and ocico edged in black.

The next day, very early. It was collected by the workers of the municipality so that no one saved it from its destination.

Those close to him thought they would sacrifice him. They politicized the issue, blaming Mayor Morales for a black campaign.

On the Internet it became scandal. El Universal and Excélsior gave space to the news, there was talk of marches and animal cruelty in local media. The municipality had to issue a statement explaining that the dog was fine. And more than twenty requests for adoption came to take Solovino.

Through the NGO Friends of Animals, AC., Rafael Sánchez asked Martha Alarcón, its president:

“What do you know about this dog that is already a scandal?”
“There’s a list of twenty people who want to adopt him.” Do not worry. You will have a home.

But Rafael clung to his tail. Then he got a call.

“What if Solovino is not available?” Do you take another?


“That dog is the law, it has the energy for that.” They already wanted to make a march for him to return. He was everyone’s friend.

Gabriel Estrada Castillo is a 53-year-old dulcero, his family place, with more than 70 years of tradition, was the first one in the Parque Juárez, where in the afternoons you can see from the viewpoint the mist falling on the roofs.

One day seven months ago came a stray dog with honey-colored hedgehogs, very similar to Golfo, a character from the film La Dama and El Vagabundo. They became friends, in the evenings they ate and played; At night it disappeared.

He already had his plate at the foot of Gabriel’s post. The first time they asked him about the dog, he replied: Well, he only came. And Solovino stayed with him.

“He was a half-asshole, he went and drank in the magazines across the street. The first time I saw him, I thought: I’m going to make that fat bastard look fat.

A government worker gave her a necklace with her name; Another brought him croquettes. Gabriel decided to hang a sign on his neck that said: “Xfa buy me croquettes, you leave them in the post that is in the corner of the Palace. Thank you”.

He thinks that annoyed the authority and that’s why they went after him. He went to visit the Animal Health Center, Solovino recognized, jumped and wagged his tail. Photographers captured them when they were together; The photos are now in memory of the post.

“I told the doctor, the dog identifies with me, and I with him. Its habitat is Parque Juárez. There he must live. I promise to bring it every weekend.

I made him famous so that others would take him. People ask me. Do you know where Solovino is?

In the kennel they said: Leave your request.
I would like to see it one of these days.

The only thing that made Solovino different, thinks Víctor Tobías Gil, Head of the Animal Health Center, was the media campaign that accompanied him.

“It was raised at the request of several citizen reports. It was an aggressive dog that ate the hotdogs of the merchants and urinated in the newspapers. Letters were taken in the matter, but it was defended by journalists and merchants.

Solovino found injuries and fleas. They sterilized him. He also had gums stuck in his body.

Lourdes Jiménez, Secretary of the Board of Friends of Animals, AC., Said that the media acted against the institutions, but thanks to this people turned to see the animals on the street.

There were really worried people who thought that Solovino was going to sleep, it was an innocent being, exposed, not reacting. And the people wanted to help him.

Friends of Animals were looking for a person who really loved dogs among the more than twenty requests. Rafael Sanchez said: If you need a home, I can give it to you.

-Rafa is an animal lover, he is one of the few people who invest their resources in them. He has taken dogs that nobody wants to adopt: old, mutilated, sick. He is probably the person that most dogs have adopted with us.

In twenty-three years of Friends of the Animals, I had never seen such a sound case. The other candidates for adoption agreed that he did not want another dog other than Solovino.

“He’s in a house where he is worshiped, he has a new family. God knows what’s going to happen to him.

Rafael Sanchez is 50 years old, five of them collecting dogs: Already adds 45 adopted animals and 11 godchildren who feed daily.

He walks the city in a red van, which has a poster of Andres Manuel López Obrador stuck in the camper.

It is easy to identify him, he always walks dogs from one place to another. Through the windows of the van, they peek out with their tongues and ears flying.

Barking is heard several meters away.

Almost all of them have been living in a dismantled soccer field that has been set up as an animal shelter. Before arriving at that place, it passes to Tino’s house, a fat, mustache and straw hat farmer who has 11 dogs tied up.

“I heard dogs barking at me. They were skinny on the bones. I asked permission to be allowed to spend food every day. There is a very thin line between a happy dog and a miserable one: the chain.

He recommended that they be sterilized so as not to have over population.

-In the colony they tell me the eggs Mocha. The children know me as Don Dog.

Within the myths that exist about his person, is the one that for each sterilized dog receives an economic amount; Or that the PRD is behind all this.

“I’m on the left, my father was a poor doctor.

When Rafael enters the old court, the barking of dogs deafens the environment. It has them divided into two sections with cyclonic mesh.

“I know the barking of the 45 dogs. They are like a child, they are not an object. They are living beings. When you are going to feed them you have to pass list. It is a practical act.

It is difficult to walk between more than 40 dogs. Everyone stands on their feet; Everyone wants to be caressed

It is difficult to enter into a conversation amidst forty excited dogs.

Forty-five dogs and eleven godchildren consume a bundle of 25 kilos of food a week: 2 thousand pesos.

Also two and a half kilos of sausage.

Five basic veterinarians.

Three hours of bathing a week in a pool with a special brew for fleas.

The construction of a cistern for the capture of rainwater with a capacity of 270 thousand liters, which is equivalent to 27 pipes of water.

Employ all morning to attend them.
Bathe three times a day.
Have a small blacksmith shop at home.
A bedroom in case any animal gets sick.


Five years ago he started picking up street dogs, anonymously. A run-down dog was the first to save. It just occurred to him. And from there more and more.

“The street dog suffers. They are not like the sun and the clouds. It is a helpless being. The excuses to get rid of a dog are unbelievable.

Fantastic stories of abandon abound in his pack.

Hunter, a Beagle, was thrown into the street because he ate a 5,000-peso cell phone, found it outside his master’s house. Rafael approached, saying that the dog had left.

“He did not go out, I threw him out.” He ate my cell phone. It is not mine anymore.

While Potter, a cousin of Hunter, got tired of it and they threw it to the roof.

“One of the ugliest forms of abandonment is the roof.” The dogs are sun and rain, abandoned. The roof is Siberia.

Others found them bound; in the bones.

Rafael has separated from the rest of the pack Chiquilina and his three children: Albóndiga, Pirrinplín and Pirata.

They began to hunt in a group, first they surrounded rabbits and they killed them, then lambs and cows. Neighbors of the place where he has his dogs wanted to sacrifice them. They looked for him.

When he adopted them, he found that three of his most peaceful dogs were bitten. One day he hid to see what was happening inside the group, and surprised Chiquilina and his children by attacking in a group, so he separated them with a mesh.

When Rafael is with them the dogs coexist with the rest, they do not dare to attack in his presence.


Always left. He was born in Xalapa, son of Dr. Alejandro Sánchez Simmedinger and Yolanda Pérez Casas, who died when Rafael was seven years old. He was raised by Dr. Emilia Zetina.

They were six brothers; Three live.

Rafael is thin; Gray hair Bright eyes: eternal smile.

“I’m a left-wing type, my dad was a poor doctor. He was an admirer of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara. I was in student movements at the Universidad Veracruzana.

He studied dentistry at the Universidad Veracruzana, specializing in putting brackets on adolescents; Was married in 1988 with Fabiola Hernández Lira, also 50 years old and pediatric dentist. She thinks he is crazy about his work with animals, but he supports it.

When his wife turned 50 years old he decorated a wall that is in the living room of his house, there are photos of days gone by; Of the family, of all the moments of happiness.

“We could not have family for medical reasons. The miracle of conception did not occur.

Rafael Sanchez says that dentistry is bourgeois people; Does not know anyone who supports Lopez Obrador.

He has even lost patients by getting into controversy by talking politics. He cares for the dogs in the mornings, in the evenings he works in his office.

“They are professions that isolate you, wanting to help people I ended up helping the dogs. You’re going to be left alone.

In a quarter of a hectare dogs live. There is a palapa, a blacksmith’s workshop, a small concrete slab of what used to be the old soccer field and a small two-story apartment at the bottom of the ground, where Rafael sleeps when a dog is sick, or wants to get rid of World around him.

In this department there are three adopted cats: Night, Firefighter and Camila.

The court built it 15 years ago for his love of football. He is a follower of Cruz Azul and a midfielder.

“He left me money, but no satisfaction. I rented it for parties. It was 2000 pesos gain every Saturday.
Rafael says that a dog has desires, longings. Nothing else barks because yes. He thinks that the trade of dogs should disappear, that leads to reproducing animals to sell them.

The satisfaction he finds now is different. It’s something you’ve been looking for for years.

“At last I found meaning in life. When I see my dogs it’s another story. You are committed to life. It’s my family. They are my children.

Rafael, Don Dog, comes and goes to Xalapa. There are some dogs in the house: those who are sick, the old ones, those who eat toads and can be poisoned, or those who are adapting, like Solovino.

Try not to get rid of human life, so no dog enters the house.

“I have not lost that human essence, I like to do my things. Sitting in the studio at the computer. I eat at the table with my wife.

He is aware that Solovino had affections before him, and by the time he is getting used to his new home, where they are valid, he said, the visits of those who formed a friendship.

He worries that the dog is so dependent; When he travels in the van Solovino approaches the cabin, in the back, while Rafael caresses him.

He is the only dog not sick that does not climb by himself to the truck, is not yet accustomed. It has to be laced with a muzzle to carry it, even biting.

“He’s not used to discipline.” Of all my pack, he is the only one who has taken a bite. On the day of adoption I bit my right hand. There is no bad dog, they are aggressive because of shyness.

The first week of August, Rafael adopted Tripié, an amputated dog with a foreleg that came to Amigos de los Animales, an Ejidal Shepherd, or a legitimate Street Terrier.

It now has 57 dogs and 3 cats. He does not know when it will stop.