When Nelson Vergara saw Disney's "101 Dalmatians," the film inspired him to rescue as many dogs as he could.
Today, 42 Dalmatians live in the backyard of his small Chilean home, and he even drives a white van decorated with black spots. He’s earned himself the nickname "Dalmatian Man."
"It all started because of that film," Vergara told The Associated Press. "That was computer-generated. But I wanted to do the real thing."
But his attempt to bring the movie to life has gotten him into trouble with the authorities.
His neighbors often complain about the odor coming from his yard, and officials have threatened to evict him at the end of October.
Vergara says he wants to raise awareness about Chile's stray dog problem and inspire other people to care for the country’s strays, which number in the millions.
Chilean dog owners rarely spay or neuter their pets, according to the country’s Humane Society, and their pets often roam the streets all day.
"I wanted to help — not just the Dalmatians but all dogs, because in Chile we need a solution to the canine problem," Vergara said. "Every day you see news of abandoned dogs roaming, but no one does anything about it. If we had a shelter, we wouldn't have these kinds of problems."
Despite his good intentions, some of the dogs Vergara has rescued suffer from malnutrition. He says he mostly relies on donations to feed them.
The number of dogs he's acquired and the conditions he keeps them in have led people to accuse him of animal hoarding.
"This man's heart is definitely in the right place but without proper assistance and ample space, the job of caring for that many dogs is too overwhelming," said one commenter on The AP article.
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