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By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE

While pets are more and more cherished members of the family for Mexico’s middle and upper classes, in poorer neighborhoods, they are still tied to the roof, given leftover food scraps and used for security.

They are not usually seen in movie theaters or in fancy restaurants. Or are they?

An interesting cultural transformation is taking place in certain parts of Mexico. This transformation is being spurred by small cities where economic livelihood is dependent on foreigners: Cabo, Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Puerta Vallarta.

Dogs. Everywhere.

Sitting at restaurants. Being carried in designer purses. Underneath the palapa on the beach. At the airport first-class lounge. Getting a drink of water from the water bowl outside the high-end retail store.

Dogs. Everywhere.

What’s with the dogs? If you ask a local waiter or store clerk, the response will be, “Americans and Canadians don’t have children. They have pets. The pets live better than a typical Mexican.” And shops, malls and restaurants cater to those who are paying the bill, in this case, foreigners.

Mexican legislation is rich with laws about animals: where and how they can be sacrificed, that they cannot be sold on a public street, and that the domesticated ones must be given food and water.

Most Mexican states’ civil codes only mention that they must be on a leash and “controlled” by the owner. Federal law says the same about being on the beach: allowed, but on a leash.

Surprisingly, in a country which is law-intense (on the books, anyway) there is nothing that states that pets cannot be in places that were typically reserved for people: restaurants, stores, shopping centers and the like.

This was once more controlled by social norms and conventions, all of which are changing, at least in some places.

And in your Cabos, Cancuns, Tulums, Playas and Vallartas, you see dogs everywhere, along with specialty stores for their food and gear.

Money talks, and it talks loudly.

Will that translate to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey? Doubt it, but if you frequent foreigner-heavy neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma Norte, you can definitely see the trend taking root.

And for some people, it seems that these places have already gone to the dogs.

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