For many people when you think of Spain, what comes to mind? Glorious sunshine, fabulous beaches, delicious Paellas and wonderful Fiestas. For many this is the case, and on the Costa’s and in the big cities, dogs are treated as well as anywhere in the World. They certainly have their share of pampered pooches in Madrid and Barcelona. Go inland to the Campo (the countryside) and one becomes very aware of the realities of life in Spain where animals are concerned. We are all aware of many countries that carry out barbaric treatment of animals but some of you may be surprised to hear that Spain, also falls into this category. In fact, many, consider the Spanish to be the cruelest in the whole of Europe! Bull fighting is seen as a symbol of Spanish culture and has been an active blood sport for around 300 years. Fortunately this cruel sport is now under attack as never before from animal rights campaigners. So much so that Barcelona who boasted of having three Bull rings now only have the one. One is too many, in my opinion, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. But what about the plight of dogs and cats out here? Again, you will hear the words “but it’s Spanish culture!” What?? To do the terrible things that they do? Why on earth does culture have to include cruelty?
But it’s not just about culture. The number of pets that are abandoned is increasing at an alarming rate and animal rescue organisations are desperately struggling to cope with trying to re-home them. Many Ex Pats move out to Spain, acquire a few dogs then over a period of time, for a variety of reasons, decide that they want to go back to their own country. The dog(s) or cat(s) are discarded like a book or CD they no longer want. With the economic situation being as it is, more and more animals are being left behind as people say Adios to Spain. If an organisation is unable to help then they are either turned loose where they have to take their chances or they are literally left behind. When this happens the dog just thinks it’s owners are popping out for a while so “I’ll just lie here until they come back”, except they never do. I have witnessed this for myself. For those who are turned loose it then becomes all about sheer survival for them. I have removed dead dogs from the middle of the road and placed them with dignity where they cannot be run over again and wept every time. Those who escape the roads face starvation and thirst or if they’re really, really lucky will be taken in by some passing, caring motorist. This is how I found Lady!
Over the next few months I shall continue writing articles in the Forum on the Darker Side of Spain. Some of the articles you will find heartbreaking and unbelievable. I will be writing about a very special Rescue Organisation, Barneys, run by Violet. She is only able to work on a small scale but she works tirelessly raising funds and providing long term care for those who are in appalling physical condition and are completely traumatised by their past, before they are re-homed with some wonderful success stories. Violet is close to breaking point mentally with the increased level of dog abandonment and cruelty and really deserves recognition for all her hard work. I will be writing about my Vet and her assistant, Cristina and Lolimar. Two lovely, caring people who go out of their way for you, day or night, and were wonderful with Lady shortly after I found her but that’s another story!! And finally, in May, I will be writing about a dog whose story is one of the most horrific and heartbreaking I have ever read. Such was the enormous magnitude of her story, a song was written in her memory. I have asked permission from the person who originally hi-lighted this terrible crime and her response overwhelmed me! Quote:” Dear Sue, what a WONDERFUL idea! PLEASE go ahead!” Sue (Mother of the Kids from the Valley)