Photographers' Blog

A night with the rat hunters

New York City, New York

By Mike Segar

On a hot and humid night in late July on New York City’s lower East side, I find Richard Reynolds and a small group of dog enthusiasts standing beneath the pale-yellow glow of the street lights. The sound of dogs barking emanates from inside cars parked near the apartment buildings.

This is the staging ground for a group of enthusiasts named The Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society, or R.A.T.S. The name comes from a notoriously rat-infested street in Lower Manhattan, where this group and their dogs (mostly terriers) have one mission: to hunt down and kill rats, something I was told they have been doing for about 15 years.

Merlin, a Border Terrier stands over a dead  norwegian rat he has killed during an organized rat hunt on New York City's lower east side in this picture taken July 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

A few more members of the group emerge from the shadows with their dogs. As they prepare for the hunt, Reynolds, a business consultant from New Jersey and the leader of the pack, tells me of his love for dogs. He owns at least seven, has bred terriers, judges dog shows, and is involved in just about all aspects of raising and training dogs for hunting.

“All of the folks you see here are dog nuts,” he says.

Richard Rynolds, (L) founding member of the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (R.A.T.S) a group of dog enthusiasts that regularly hunt rats in New York City, gather on New York's lower east side in Manhattan for a rat hunt

New York City is notorious for its huge rat population and some say there are more rats here than people. In 2014, the city budgeted $611,000 to target the problem. R.A.T.S., however, is not affiliated with the city or any official agency.

“They cooperate with us and we with them and over the years we have had a mostly cordial relationship, but we are not working for anyone here except the dogs,” Reynolds says.

Lost dogs of Romania

 Bucharest, Romania

By Bogdan Cristel

I love dogs. I grew up with them around me all the time and I remember always having one with me when I played in my grandpa’s yard as a child.

Our dogs, just like thousands of others in Bucharest, were kept in the family garden. But everything changed in the city after former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu began a project to erase old houses with backyards and replace them with huge high-rise blocks.

As a result of the mass demolitions, many dogs were turned out on the streets and the number of strays increased year after year. Some 60,000 dogs roam the capital according to local authorities.

The crime of dog kidnapping

Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

A woman approached me while I was taking pictures of a leaflet with information on a purebred dog that had gone missing in Parque Mexico. She was on a bike and she had a dog with her whose head easily reached my belly. She asked me if I was doing a story and she introduced herself as Mariam Luzcan “a protector of dogs and a true dog lover”. She was dressed in black and covered with what I suppose was dog hair and lots of dirt, she smelled like dog too. But I liked her so we agreed to meet again in a couple of days and do a story together on missing dogs.

In Mexico City, dog kidnapping has become another way of making an illegal, but quick, buck. It is becoming more common as many of the capital dwellers own lots of dogs. And I mean lots – not one or two, but four or even six or seven pooches at a time. Of course there is a wide range of businesses dedicated to the well-being of man’s best friend. There are dog hairdressers, dog clothing lines, specialty food stores, dog hotels, companies that arrange adoptions for “orphaned” dogs, security for dogs, massages for dogs, crematoriums for dogs, you name it.

In a country where half of the population lives in poverty and where drug violence has killed more than 70,000 people so far, I find this overwhelming love towards an animal which I have never been able to relate to, a bit disturbing.

Flying with man’s best friend

Salt Lake City, Utah

By Jim Urquhart

Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz once said, “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”

For me there is a simple truth in that statement. I have many failings and weaknesses that I am continually trying to learn from. Some I am just learning to accept, new ones get pointed out daily by others. That is just me. But I have the privilege of owning and caring for a dog.

GALLERY: FLYING DOG

Spending time with most dogs you will probably find they want nothing more than to be close to you and be at your side as you experience the world. Food, water and loving attention is all you need to provide to win a dog’s heart. It is a simple price. But the admission into their hearts is worth more than their weight in gold.

Los Galgos Guapos (The Handsome Hounds)

By Erin Siegal

I’d never really known a galgo, or greyhound. To me, they were simply those weirdly skinny creatures in the NYC dog runs that looked like yawning alligators when panting, so rail-thin that they practically disappeared unless they turned sideways.

But now?

Well, let’s just say that I think Dreamboat’s name is pretty accurate.


“Dreamboat,” a.k.a. U.S.S. Dreamboat, enjoys a bath.

In Tijuana, Mexico, the Caliente racetrack is famous. In the city’s heyday, high-end thoroughbreds charged past glamorous crowds of onlookers; photos of the horses still adorn the walls in the casino’s basement administrative offices. Today, however, a different kind of animal bursts from the starting gates each day: American greyhounds.

Chile’s dog days

By Ivan Alvarado

Today it seems the dictatorship ended only recently….

A newspaper front page shows a dog participating in the demonstrations in Chile. It seems that anything can happen these troubled days around the world, so between slogans and statements it makes sense to write a blog about street dogs and demonstrations.

“Free quality education.” – Student movement
“Nothing is free in life.” – President Sebastian Pinera
“Education should not be for profit.” – Student movement
“Gang of useless subversives.” – Carlos Larrain, president of the ruling party
“We don’t need mediators, and especially not from the Catholic Church.” – Camila Vallejo, student leader.
“It’s going to fall, it’s going to fall….the education of Pinochet.” – Demonstrators.
“Education is a commodity.” – President Pinera.
“The government exaggerates the students’ claims to demonize them.” – Mario Waissbluth, expert on education.
“The only thing they [the demonstrators] want to do is destroy the country and us.” – Chile’s National Police.
“I’m a gardener and I want my son to be an engineer.” – Street graffiti.

With the camera on manual mode, shutter speed 1/1000, and my view limited by a gas mask, my 70-200mm lens changes focus with agility and it seems most often to lock on a dog running in and out of its view trying to capture a water jet aimed by riot police at hundreds of student protesters of diverse origin, all of them united under the conviction that a better education in Chile is possible.

Luxury dog care open for business

Affluent South Koreans have just about every fashion accessory imaginable from designer clothes to handbags and the latest trend in Asia’s fourth biggest economy is small dogs.

Just like their well-groomed owners in the ritzy suburbs of the capital Seoul, pets are now big business for groomers, healthcare businesses and even mood music, helping to create a whole new service industry.

“IRION” is a luxury pet care centre in the Gangnam district in Seoul that recently opened to cater to the needs of affluent urban dwellers who have embraced small dogs as their latest fashion accessory.