By Vivienne Wharton of ACTIN in Spain
I woke up to my birthday without much excitement, but more trepidation as certain events were due to happen and I was feeling worried. A few days before, we had heard about two dogs, abandoned by their hunter owner and condemned to starve. He simply didn’t want them anymore, they were surplus to requirements and he just didn’t care. This is not unusual in Spain and especially after the hunting season, when there are many dogs needing rescuing.
The younger generation in Spain seems to have more empathy towards the plight of these animals and this man’s goddaughter had heard about our association and she asked for help and advice. We don’t often come into contact with the type of person like this girl’s godfather; they are usually long gone by the time their dogs are rescued, if the dogs are lucky enough to still be alive.
The owners are often brutal and vicious men, without conscience of what they do to their dogs and have been known to retaliate towards anyone who challenges them about their behavior, or reports them. So it was shocking that when the dogs arrived at my village and to my gate, the shameless owner was in tow. I had to let them come for me, as my car had been loaned out for the day. If only I had known!
‘Four hundred euros,’ I asked for, under an angry breath. Did he think in this terrible economic crisis, that he can dump dogs on us, a charity and leave us to pay for the dogs’ board, their sterilization and the poor thin and sick looking creature’s vet’s bills, now that he had discarded them? We are not even a rescue charity, but an association trying to make changes for the animals in Spain. However, we were determined to prosecute and the only way, is to try to save the dogs first. The danger with reporting abuse to the police first is that they could confiscate them to the pound and they would probably die anyway.
He was scary and I was nervous, but for the dogs’ sake and his poor goddaughter, I remained calm. In the car, I was unwittingly sitting next to a Galguero (a Spanish hunter) that uses dogs for hunting. In general, they have a reputation for the most unbelievable cruelty and murder of thousands of hunting dogs at the end of each season. Dogs are hanged, with their back legs just touching the ground; it is a slow and painful deaths for these beautiful dogs that have done nothing other than serve their masters. The Spanish government still insists on ignoring the truth of this, whilst us rescuers, associations and many people protest and beg for it to end. Hardly anyone knows what goes on, or to what extent and how bad it is.
My Heart was Beating Out of My Chest….
There I was, sitting next to this man, my skin crawling with a feeling of intense hatred and my whole being filled with all of the anger I felt towards every galguero whose dog I have seen dead, mutilated, or suffering. What was I to do? My mind was running wild, but I had to respect the poor girl who had persuaded her godfather to give up these two poor souls.
When we got out of the car, the dogs were in a trailer, behind the car, enclosed inside and transported like pieces of equipment, the typical way of transporting these dogs. The dogs looked terrible! I was upset to the core but held my tongue whilst my heart beat out of my chest.
We took the dogs and they just left me there stranded. The dog’s former owner told his goddaughter it would have been less trouble for him to shoot the dogs.
The dogs are safe in residency now. They need care, which they are receiving and when they arrived, they were covered with ticks, fleas and parasites and were extremely thirsty and hungry.
They drank literally buckets of water and were so sad and scared. Today they are looking better and they are happier.
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