Regular readers will have been following the two large rescues carried out in Murcia in January and February 2012, namely at a gypsy camp with 74 dogs, and Bullas with 120 dogs. Vivienne Wharton lives near Cartegena, Murcia and has written about her experiences with the Bullas rescue on 9th March 2012.
The shame in Spain
I recently started my activities in a facebook group - Animal Welfare Support Murcia, whilst waiting for my Association, Actin, to be registered by the Town Hall. Actin - Animal Care Treatment International Network is not a rescue charity but an Association which will endeavor to make changes to the overwhelming situation of abandoned and neglected dogs, cats and other domestic animals in the region. We plan to do this through many activities including education and campaigns.
Many ex-pats and local caring people will have been touched by this situation in some way, either by rescuing dogs and in some cases finding they have too many to cope with, or just by the constant awareness of charity’s in need of help and support so that they may continue the work of rescue.
However it came home to me in this last month that it isn’t just a case of abandoned dogs on the streets, something much more tragic has been going on since the end of the hunting season. Unscrupulous owners are keeping dogs-en-masse in terrible conditions, allowing the dogs to starve or to suffer from disease and of course left in the open elements of a cold Spanish winter. When I say en-masse, I mean 100’s!!!
I did not plan to be involved in rescue but it is impossible not to be, there are charities that I want to support, information that I need to know and my natural need to save animals as sentient beings; I cannot bear their suffering. So it was with a heavy heart that I found myself going last week (9/3/12) to the much publicized Bullas rescue in Murcia. This is one of many, there is the case of the 150 dogs in Mazarron that Galgos Del sol and Andreas Animal Rescue, were very much involved in and saved many suffering dogs; there is another case in Cuenca of 300 dogs, 120 of those were planned to be destroyed; this is going on all over Spain.
These unfortunate dogs are mainly hunting dogs; either dumped by the owners to these people, who either do not know how to take care of the dogs, or perhaps, as in the case of the Bullas situation, wants to use the dogs to breed dogs for next year’s hunters. Some hunters dispose of these dogs like unwanted garbage. Those of you that have never known a Galgo or a Podenco, these loving intelligent and gentle creatures do not deserve this. They have served their master and now treated as though it were an unwanted and useless piece of machinery.
The Bullas rescue was planned by an organisation called Pro- Setter, a legal battle ensued against the owner to get access to the dogs and access was allowed on a few prior arranged days, when only registered organisations could go in and rescue these dogs. I went along with the Little Pod Foundation, a great organisation who have had been very active in many rescues, including the one of the Beagles released from the Barcelona Laboratory. Along with them, we made plans to rescue 8 Podencos. I was proud to be part of their team as it was a heart rending assignment, choosing which dogs to take and which to leave and I am glad I didn’t have to make the choice.
A lot of planning had to be made very quickly prior to the rescue, for the veterinary treatment, the travel, the tests and the inoculations and of course their foster care. It seemed impossible with so many other things happening and needy dogs everywhere, funds had to be acquired for all of this and at the moment most charities are struggling, with the worst season for abandonment situation in many years, so I have been told.
When we arrived we were shocked to see the conditions these dogs were in was diabolical, there were many hoarded in one huge enclosure, some of them terrified, some of them barely able to stand; the stronger ones still wagged their tails and I swear I could see in their body language the relief when we arrived. Many were chained to trees with string so tight it cut into their necks, they had sores where they were so thin and lying on the cold ground, standing in their own pooh sick and urine, their poor legs were sore and some had mange. They had been fed occasionally on potato crisps and stale bread by their owner, so we understand.
Once the volunteers had access and were able to give them food their poor little tummies could barely cope with it. It was lovely to see though, that as many of the dogs were put on collars and leads and given love and strokes their demeanor changed as the day progressed. The worst part of this day was that I knew the huge freshly dug holes in the ground were filled with the bodies of the poor creatures who did not survive; I didn’t dare look but photographic evidence was taken and I believe very harrowing to see.
A voluntaeer vet was on hand who chipped the dogs as the charities decided which they would take, they were passported and vaccinated for rabies; that part of it truly impressed me, it was all voluntary and paid for by contributions and charities. What a fantastic bunch of people. Local charities that I know of who helped and rescued in Bullas were Noah’s arc, Andrea’s animal rescue, Galgos Del sol, who have been involved in both the recent cases in Mazarron and Bullas, also in Bullas was San Animal Santuario and many more charities were there, from all over the region.
We have many dogs locally that need help too and so it makes it all the more harder, however this is an epidemic and we all need to help wherever we can. Well done to all those that found the time and resources somehow to help all these dogs. I hear that at the end of the day all dogs were rescued but am sad to report that the owner has another site where the same thing is taking place!!
The only thing we must do now is to try to fight, to make sure these people are not allowed to do this again. As for the Bullas situation, we still wait to hear the outcome of whether the owner is prosecuted and sufficiently.
If the hunters cared for their dogs, if sterilization and care for these hunting dogs was made legal and a hunter could only own a dog with that criteria, we may be somewhere towards resolving a little of Spain’s animal problems. There are many Spanish who care about this ( I have met many of them now) and many of the organisations there were Spanish; this problem lies higher than just with the people, I hope never to see anything like I saw last Friday (9/3/2012) ever again.
Vivienne offers holidays for dog lovers at her home Tara Casa - although you don't have to be a dog lover to enjoy what is on offer.