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Cruelty to Animals

Living or visiting Spain people see a great deal of cruelty to dogs and to other animals all around but find many Spanish people as well as the police, and the Mayor’s office showing little interest at their concerns if they express them. There appears to be a different concept of what is cruelty.

You would think that it would be easy to define Cruelty but it is not. Simply to say it is one entity abusing by using physical or mental pain to another should say it all but unfortunately, we have variable parameters.

In parts of Asia, a family will go off on a picnic with a dog but the dog does not return. In front of all the family, they cut the dog’s throat, skin it and the dog meat is barbequed for their meal.
When they go home the dog obviously does not. This is another meaning to taking the dog for a walk.

We see that even after a year the shelter near Torrevieja remains open. All who see it agree the conditions for the dogs are appalling except a vet brought in by the local council certified that the conditions are adequate. Last year I tried to find a vet willing to travel to the shelter and give their opinion but not one showed any interest in going up against the council. Will it still be there in another year’s time?

I have many emails and phone calls regarding animal cruelty yet where can they go to find help similar to the RSPCA back in the UK. Yes, they do act in cruelty cases and will aggressively take an errant owner to court that is their mandate and they have the power to bring a prosecution. Such a system is sadly lacking here and all the questions I receive I can only sympathise but unable to answer.

I heard of one case of a constantly barking dog. The police came round and a month later came back again to see if the dog was now quiet. When the complainants said the situation was the same, they say the police suggested poisoned meat as a cure.

Take this next case sent to me from the web site of www.ActionAgainstPoisoning.com. Their aims are: -

To fight ignorance our wish for 2004 is a global scientific effort to perceive, understand and translate the animal languages. And of course spread and publish the knowledge. If animals could talk to us, or better if we could confirm their intelligence, reasoning, intentions, affection and fears, we would not be ignorant any more and less inclined to harm them.

Does this not echo the content of all my articles? Do look at their website to see some of the cruelty animals have to endure.

The case they sent me was where a Blind lady had lost her Guide dog. Her husband went to look for him and found him in a nearby field showing signs of poisoning. They immediately took their dog to the vets where the vet diagnosed strychnine. Whilst the dog lay dying, it excreted a large amount of semi-digested raw meat yet this dog did not eat raw meat as it only ate dried food.

The vet stated in the report that once the dog had been lured by the smell of this poisoned fresh meat onto that farmers land it would not have been able to travel very far as strychnine acts almost immediately. The mayor and the police were still unwilling to investigate the complaint.

Not only that but the laying of such poison, as strychnine particularly in an area frequented by children along with their family pets is dangerous and illegal. The authorities only view this as a common practice. For this reason the Mayors office, Police, and the Guardia Civil will not take any interest in the case at all.

The other week I was walking Winston just above Javea and heard the sound of shotgun fire so I took him over to let him gradually become use to the sound. We visited the gun club and I asked could we enter in order to train Winston. To our left was the normal clay pigeon area but no one was using this at the time so I asked permission to go further in. We then came to what I though was another clay pigeon shooting area. There seemed to be a competition going on and from below the edge flew not clays but very small birds that flew straight upwards passing the waiting guns.

The shooting was appalling. Because of this, a number of birds managed to escape unscathed. Some guns could only wing birds with the second shot whilst others winged on the first and only winged again on the second. These birds did manage to flutter off and land some distance away only to die in pain. Some guns shot one bird using both barrels. To me this is like using Big Bertha to shoot rats where a 4.10 would do.

My brother in law always taught me to shoot and kill only something that is either harmful vermin or something I will eat. A shotgun has two barrels so it is possible to kill two birds. At worst, if you only wing one then you must certainly kill it with the second shot. I was lucky David used an automatic Remington shotgun that holds five cartridges. He only ever used two as normal and he was saving the others least he had to kill any of my birds that I had only winged having used up both of my barrels.

When this happened he would not allow me to shoot again until I had completed a months practice with clays and my aim had improved. I have seen many UK guns shoot and kill bird after bird never missing a shot. The traditional view is that it is cruel to wound.

Comparing my ability to real hunters I might have just merited a juniors hunting badge but killing little birds like that I would never call the guns I saw neither hunters nor sportsman as the signs suggested on the back of some of the cars in the car park.

Add to this their common use of deadly poisons just to protect such meagre game reserves when in fact it kills more family pets than they do vermin. Vets tell me that poisoning of pets is far too common a problem here. I see no evidence of a properly organised game shoot here in Spain or am I wrong.

When Henry Easterby near Tadcaster in Yorkshire was planning for his shoot he would lay down thousands of birds even allowing an extra 10 percent for poaching, another 10% for deaths from predators like foxes plus a further 10% natural disease and finally 10% for migration. It costs a lot of money but the guns paid for the privilege. Here not only the innocent pray pay with pain but also ordinary pet owners have to suffer as well for the guns need to protect their second-class macho hobby.

One person told me that Spanish people believe that animals do not have souls and so it does not matter how they are treated. Is that really an honest and religious answer? Do not ask the church because to date they will not make any statements about animal rights issues at all.

Yet, for certain religions, all life is sacred. Even inadvertently standing on an ant is taking a life in the eyes of God. For me I will kill any creepy crawly that means me harm. I have hunted and killed. I have cleaned and gutted rabbets, pigeons, and eels for eating. I do not think I could do it now but if marooned on a desert island then for my survival I would have to. Would that be cruel?

The other week I went to the APASA open day and Andrea Ropolthy had made a montage of pictures of Bulls running in the streets where they slipped and crashed into walls and breaking their legs. Bulls falling into the sea or flames on their horns or just plain bullfighting. We have pictures here of hunting Dogs hung from trees to die simply because they did not work well that day. All this type of activity and more is all in the name of Spanish fun.

People say not to criticise the Spanish because it is their tradition and they could so easily claim that the tearing a fox to shreds or pulling down a stag using dogs or hare coursing is also some similar traditional form of hunting for those in the UK.

Are the Spanish after years fed a diet of animal cruelty has this now made them immune? Most foreigners do not share their view and why should they.

I do notice that on Spanish television and in their papers the pictures used are often quiet graphic yet for us in the UK the editors use only pictures that they feel are tolerable to the viewer or reader.

Many times, I hoped people could see a child immediately after having most of their face torn off to waken everyone to the problems dog aggression. You cannot, as editors only print the pictures of the face after the doctors have cleaned the child up all covered in stitches. This they think is more acceptable for us. Do we really want wrapping up in cotton wool?

Notice now the pictures from Iraq are purposely dribbling out a few at a time and each a little worse than before to desensitise us to finding what they have done more monotonous and more palatable. To see the worst pictures first would have created a major backlash for the Governments involved.

Often I have heard that we are in Spain and should accept the norms of Spain. We do not have the right to complain. To rely on the use of such an excuse we would still have cannibalism in many places in the world today.

All people who are members of the EU must follow the majority belief as what is the acceptable standard even if it means going backwards from the current norm. This is possible because in the same way I would never wish to gut and clean a wild animal to eat again means we all can learn to re-sensitise ourselves again and learn to accept the current consensus of cruelty.

This will only happen when people demand our political officials to do as we say. The problem is that they believe they are the political masters and they tell us what to do. It seems that only when there is some cost effectiveness perceived or they fear they will lose their office do politicians suddenly climb on the bandwagon and defend animal welfare.

You might say that I am laying out the case for the prosecution yet answering as the defence so why bother to fight for change at all. Unless we can forecast our weakness in our prosecution, we can never present a strong and valid case. We must learn to know how to make people understand the majority of people feeling about animal cruelty and why.

If the EU can waste millions standardising bananas for size and straightness surly they should be standardising our cruelty laws to defend all animals’ rights.

We know that to use head to head confrontation only makes matters worse but I have learned that whilst some Spanish farmers have threatened people’s dogs with poison if they do not keep off their land, returning the threat does hit home and all of a sudden then see the folly of such action. They are fully aware of the pain and suffering they cause but they will not stop so long as it is not their dog. I am not saying I am in support of any no one wins scenarios like Armageddon but it does show there exists hypocrisy here in Spain.

Change is a slow process and it will take time but people must stand up and demand that councils and police do prosecute animal ill treatment along with those people who lay poison that kills so many pets. This begs the question what would they do in the case of a complaint against a bullfight.

I have seen some very poor use of the sword in what is simply a ritualised killing. I have seen to often a bull still standing with the sword in its shoulder that failed to hit the target. Here they must retrieve it in order to make a second attempt. (They say practice makes perfect)

To see a bull bleeding from the mouth and still standing whilst the matador waits for it to drop to its knees so he can turn to the crowd for his applause. Well for those of you who may or may not agree with me the following picture may have you for or against the matador. For what he or the bull is saying answers on a postcard to the editor please.

Bull attacking bullfighter

There still remains a lot of cruelty in our world but Politicians now have spin taught to them as an art form. They have other priorities and know how they can put us off long enough until we finally give up and go away. We are all members of the EU so do not give up but support all such organisations that are acting on our behalf for the improvement in animals rights and do not take no as an answer.

If you find bureaucracy lacking interest or stalling then simply say, “Hey what would you do if it was your dog killed or your child attacked”? You know if that happened, they would be the first to complain.

Sociability requires kindness to all our animals for them to wish to give their best to us. If we treat them with respect, they will respect us in their fashion. Let’s be careful out there and keep banging on those bureaucratic doors for change.

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