Monday, February 23, 2009

157 dogs found in house

Playwright says rescuing stray animals has taken over his life

TIJUANA — As a leading Baja California playwright, Edward Coward has won prizes and much critical praise for his powerful, heartrending pieces. But now he is at the center of an all-too-real saga featuring the plight of the city's abandoned dogs.

The 42-year-old Tijuana native has been the target of both fury and praise since the discovery of 157 canines crammed inside a three-bedroom house he rented in the comfortable middle-class neighborhood of El Mirador. Scenes of filth and overcrowding have been playing out on newscasts since Feb. 13, when state health officials raided the residence and municipal workers seized the dogs.
“I cannot stand to see an animal looking for help,” Coward said in an interview this week, at a second house on a hilltop across the city in Colinas del Sol, where he has been keeping 25 dogs. “Once you've opened your eyes to the problem, you can't close them anymore.”